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Opera in the Rock: ‘Madama Butterfly’

By Stephanie Smittle

7:30 p.m. Fri., 2:30 p.m. Sun. Arkansas Repertory Theater. $20-$65.

Francesca Mondanaro by Janelle Mondanaro/Virginia OsborneJanelle Mondanaro/Virginia Osborne
$20 – $65

Without a riveting soprano, you do not have a “Madama Butterfly.” With one like Francesca Mondanaro at the top of your cast list, your “Madama Butterfly” will ruin the eyeliner and wreck the psyches of your audience members in one fell swoop. (That swoop has a name, actually — “Un bel di vedremo.” Second act. Can’t miss it.) Puccini’s title role is demanding enough to be considered a rite of passage for singers, and Mondanaro is beautifully equipped for it, with a leviathan of a dramatic soprano voice and a technique that draws upon the Italian Swedish singing school, the same school of thought that gave us Birgit Nilsson and Kirsten Flagstad. For Opera in the Rock’s performance of the tragedy set in Nagasaki, Japan, Mondanaro will be joined by Daniel Foltz-Morrison, Sarah Stankiewicz Dailey, Theodor Carlson and Tania Kelley, a 15-year-old making her operatic debut. David Ward — a basso buffo with a marvelous eye for painting a picture on stage — directs, and the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra performs the score. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Fri., May 17, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, May 19. Get tickets at 

*A previous version of this To-Do List stated incorrectly that Gio Antipolo was to accompany the performances. Performances of “Madama Butterfly” with Opera in the Rock will be performed with full orchestra. (Antipolo served as rehearsal pianist.) This version also stated the performance times incorrectly; performances are 7:30 p.m. Fri., May 17, and 2:30 p.m. Sun., May 19. 


May 18, 2019
$20 – $65
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Arkansas Repertory Theatre
601 Main St.
Little Rock, AR 72201
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(501) 378-0405