Florida Grand Opera Presents Puccini’s Madama Butterfly

Florida Grand Opera Madama Butterfly Photo Daniel Azoulay
Florida Grand Opera Madama Butterfly Photo Daniel Azoulay

January 18 – February 1, 2020, in Miami and Fort Lauderdale

Florida Grand Opera (@FGOpera) presents Puccini’s masterpiece Madama Butterfly as the second production of the company’s 79th season, sung in Italian, with English and Spanish projected translations above the stage. Puccini’s Madama Butterfly is scheduled for four performances at the Ziff Ballet Opera House at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami on January 18, 21, 23 and 26, 2020; and two performances at the Au-Rene Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale on January 30 and February 1, 2020.

All six (6) performances will feature soprano Sandra Lopez in her anticipated return to FGO in the heartbreaking title role of the doomed geisha, with tenor Joshua Guerrero as the American naval officer who abandons her, and Stephany Peña as Suzuki, Butterfly’s Maid. Grant Youngbloodreturns to FGO in the role of Sharpless, and tenor Nicholas Nestorak as Goro in his FGO debut. Ramón Tebar conducts the Florida Grand Opera Orchestra, and featuring an FGO directing debut by E. Loren Meeker.

About the Opera:

World premiere: Teatro alla Scala, Milan, 1904. FGO premiere: 1948. Last performed by FGO, 2014. The title character of Madama Butterfly—a young Japanese geisha who clings to the belief that her arrangement with a visiting American naval officer is a loving and permanent marriage—is one of the most compelling roles in opera. The story evokes ideas about cultural and sexual imperialism for people far removed from the opera house, and film, Broadway, and popular culture in general have riffed endlessly on it. The lyric beauty of Puccini’s score, especially the music for the thoroughly believable lead role, has made Butterfly timeless.

“Madama Butterfly, like all great works of art, exposes the human condition. Puccini’s story sets up a clash of world views and begs the audience to analyze our past in order to create a better future” E. Loren Meeker, Stage Director.


Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924) was immensely popular in his own lifetime, and his mature works remain staples in the repertory of most of the world’s opera companies. His librettists for Madama Butterfly, Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica, had also collaborated with the composer on his previous two operas, Tosca and La bohème. Giacosa, a dramatist, was responsible for the stories and Illica, a poet, worked primarily on the text.


The opera takes place in the Japanese port city of Nagasaki at the turn of the last century, at a time of expanding American international presence. Japan was hesitantly defining its global role, and Nagasaki was one of the country’s few ports open to foreign ships. Temporary marriages for foreign sailors were not unusual.


Puccini achieved a new level of sophistication with his use of the orchestra in this score, with subtle colorings and sonorities throughout. But the opera rests squarely on the performer of the title role: On stage for most of the time, Cio-Cio-San is the only character that experiences true (and tragic) development. The singer must convey an astounding array of emotions and characteristics, growing from child to a women, projecting emotions, to passionate ecstasy and tragic resignation in the final scene.


Internationally acclaimed soprano Sandra Lopez has made her mark on the classical music scene in a wide variety of repertoire. Ms. Lopez has performed on the world’s great stages, and last performed with Florida Grand Opera in Daniel Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas in 2018. Ms. Lopez has toured with Andrea Bocelli to critical acclaim, and was selected for the acoustical testing of the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Opera House at the Arsht Center in Miami, Florida, and also performed the Opening Night Gala Celebration.

Proclaimed a “gifted young tenor” by the New York Times,  Joshua Guerrero makes his return to Florida Grand Opera following Lucia di Lammermoor in 2018. He is a Grammy award-winner for Los Angeles Opera’s recording of Corigliano’s Ghosts of Versailles (Best Opera Recording).

Hailed by the Washington Post as a “tall, dashing baritone with a robust sound with ringing top notes,” Grant Youngblood’s many appearances have garnered enthusiastic praise for his “smooth lyric baritone voice bringing beautiful shading and color to the score.” Mr. Youngblood joins the cast as Sharpless, the U.S. consul in Nagasaki.

A native of Michigan, Nicholas Nestorak’s career has flourished not only in the Midwest but across the United States and internationally in opera performances and vocal competitions.  Following residencies at apprentice programs with Palm Beach Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival, and Wolf Trap Opera, Nestorak will make his Florida Grand Opera debut as Goro, the marriage broker who arranges for Pinkerton to marry Butterfly.


All four productions of the 2019/20 season feature female stage directors. Making her directing debut at FGO is E. Loren Meeker, praised by the Chicago Sun-Times for her “inspired innovation,” keen artistic vision, and rich, measured storytelling. With an international career spanning engagements across the United States, Argentina, Singapore, and France, Ms. Meeker’s work has been seen at notable houses including Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Washington National Opera, and Teatro Colón. A diverse artist with a background in dance and theater, Ms. Meeker is especially regarded for her unique, cross-genre perspective which she regularly brings to her work on the operatic stage.

Maestro Ramon Tebar returns to FGO to conduct the Florida Grand Opera Orchestra*. Well-known in the Southern Florida classical music scene, Maestro Tebar also is artistic director of the Palm Beach Symphony, and considered a rising star in the opera and symphonic worlds.

*The Florida Grand Opera Orchestra is contracted by Alfredo Oliva, Miami Symphonic (@MiamiSymphonic).

Scenery designed by David P. Gordon for the Sarasota Opera. Scenery constructed and painted by Center Line Studios, Cornwall, NY. Costumes were designed by Allen Charles Klein for the Florida Grand Opera.

Cio-Cio-San Sandra Lopez, soprano
Lt. Pinkerton Joshua Guerrero, tenor
Suzuki Stephany Peña+, mezzo-soprano
Sharpless Grant Youngblood, baritone
Goro Nicholas Nestorak*, tenor
Prince Yamadori Michael Miller+ (baritone)
The Bonze Rafael Porto+, bass-baritone
The Imperial Commissioner Nathan Matticks*+, baritone
Kate Pinkerton Shaina Martinez*+, soprano
The Official Registrar Michael Miller+, baritone
Conductor Ramón Tebar
Director E. Loren Meeker*
Lighting Designer Ken Yunker
Wig and Make-up Designer Sue Schaefer
Costume Designer Allen Charles Klein
Chorus Master Katherine Kozak
Production Stage Manager Kathleen Stakenas
Production Sarasota Opera
Projected English Titles Karl W. Hesser
Projected Spanish Titles Dreambay Enterprises

Chorus of Friends, Family

*FGO debut
+FGO Studio Artist


Join us for a night of celebration at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami on Opening Night, Saturday, January 18, 2020, as we commemorate Florida Grand Opera’s 79th Season. The evening will start at 5:00 pm with cocktails in the Peacock Foundation Studio, followed by a performance of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly in the Ziff Ballet Opera House. After the opera, enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in the Peacock Studio, followed by dinner and dancing—on stage! Proceeds from the gala will benefit future artistic programming, educational events, and community outreach. Individual tickets start at $1,000, tables of 10 start at $10,000, Gala tickets/tables do not include a ticket to the opera, which must be purchased separately.


Tickets are currently on sale, starting at $15 in Miami and $21 in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets can be purchased online at www.FGO.org or by calling the FGO Box Office, Monday – Friday, 10am – 4pm, at 1.800.741.1010. Tickets may also be purchased at the affiliated box offices, at the Arsht Center and Broward Center websites, and by phone. Special rates for groups of 10 or more are available by calling 305.403.3319 or visiting www.FGO.org/groups.

Spread the love!