Karah Son (Cio-Cio-San)

San Francisco Opera Opens Summer Season with “Madama Butterfly”

San Francisco Opera’s 2023 Summer Season opens June 3 with Giacomo Puccini’s Madame Butterfly (Madama Butterfly) at the War Memorial Opera House. Caroline H. Hume Music Director Eun Sun Kim leads the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and a brilliant cast in a new production by visionary Japanese director Amon Miyamoto. San Francisco Opera Chorus Director John Keene prepares the artists of the Opera Chorus.

Known for its many stirring melodies, including Cio-Cio-San’s aria “Un bel dì” (“One beautiful day”), the Humming Chorus and the passionate Act I love duet, Madame Butterfly is among the most famous operas from the composer of La Bohème, Tosca, Gianni Schicchi and Turandot. Miyamoto’s production, staged with associate director Miroku Shimada, presents the story from the perspective of Cio-Cio-San’s child with Pinkerton, Trouble, who is now a grown man discovering the events that led to his American upbringing.

Director Amon Miyamoto said, “Madame Butterfly highlights the clash of cultural and family issues but also the abiding strength of love. In our staging, we see Cio-Cio-San’s son, Trouble, now an adult in his early 30s who has grown up experiencing discrimination as a biracial person in 1920s America. Trouble is on a journey to find where he belongs. Can he forgive his father’s mistakes by finding himself? This story illustrates the importance of valuing love as the key to a true understanding of people from different cultures and backgrounds.”

The new staging, a co-production with The Tokyo Nikikai Opera Foundation, Semperoper Dresden and the Royal Danish Opera, features the work of set designer Boris Kudlička, lighting designer Fabio Antoci and projection designer Bartek Macias. The costumes are designed by the late fashion icon Kenzō Takada, founder of the global brand and fashion house KENZO, and developed by associate costume designer Sonoko Takeda.

Now in her second season as San Francisco Opera’s Music Director, Eun Sun Kim opened the Company’s Centennial Season last September with the world premiere of John Adams’ Antony and Cleopatra and also led Francis Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites and a new production of Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata along with numerous concerts. The New York Times 2021 Breakout Star earned praise this season for her “precision and bravado” and “ever-deeper communicative bond with the musicians of the Opera Orchestra” (San Francisco Chronicle).

Korean soprano Karah Son makes her Company debut as the unforgettable title heroine, Cio-Cio-San, a role Son has performed on stages across Europe, North America and Australia.

The Sydney Morning Herald recently said of her performance in the Sydney Opera House, “Her voice spans innocent playfulness, intimate intensity and unflinchingly thrilling moments, singing ‘Un bel dì, vedremo’ with tonal purity and grace of line and without undue portent.”