Jan. 6 & 8: Puccini’s Madama Butterfly by First Coast Opera staged at Flagler College

Italian favorite features professional cast and live orchestra

St. Augustine, FL — Saint Augustine-based First Coast Opera (FCO), northeast Florida’s only professional opera company continues its 2016-17 season with a fully-staged production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, one of the world’s most popular operas.

The production, featuring professional cast and orchestra, will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 6, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 8 at Lewis Auditorium on the campus of Flagler College, 14 Granada St., downtown St. Augustine.

In this opera of interwoven cultures, set in Nagasaki, Japan in 1900, an American soldier weds a young Japanese girl. Though shunned by her family, Madame Butterfly fully embraces her new relationship and culture. But the American takes it all less seriously and marries a “real” bride back home in the United States. When the soldier later returns to Japan and realizes the seriousness of his earlier mistake, the opera ends tragically as the former geisha accepts the tragic fate her culture demands.

Soprano Shannon Kessler Dooley sings the title role. She last appeared with FCO last November in Opera Paris. The North Carolina resident has sung with Pittsburgh Opera and the Spoleto Festival. Her American suitor, Lieutenant Pinkerton, will be sung by tenor Josh Kohl, making his company debut. Recent appearances for the Connecticut resident include Seattle Opera and Sarasota Opera. Baritone Cory Schantz, also returning from last season’s Opera Paris, sings the role of American Consul Sharpless. He coordinates the opera program at Reinhardt University in Georgia, where he has also sung with Atlanta Opera. International opera singer and Saint Augustine resident Lisa Lockhart makes her company debut in the role of Suzuki. Vermont-based Helena Binder will direct the production conducted by FCO Artistic Director Curtis Tucker.

Important audience enhancements include projected English translations for the opera sung in Italian.

Reserved seats are $40 for adults and $10 for students. For additional information and to purchase tickets, go to www.firstcoastopera.com

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