Monday, May 25, 2015

Pick of the Week - Madama Butterfly

    Look for striking visual effects in lighting and costuming for Undercroft Opera’s production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, scheduled for May 28-31 at Carlow University’s Antonian Theatre, and performed in Italian with supertitles.
    Stage director Rebecca Antal notes Puccini’s “sweeping music completely lifts the relationship between the characters off the page and into tangible emotion.”
    WQED’s Anna Singer and Undercroft regular Katie Manukyan are double cast as Cio-Cio San, the principal character of this tragedy about a young girl who believes she is married to Colonel Pinkerton, an American soldier stationed in Japan.
    Pinkerton returns to the U.S. and marries legitimately, only returning to Japan after learning he and Cio-Cio produced a son.  Cio-Cio’s final aria is her heartbreaking goodbye to the son and his father, whose departures she cannot bear.
    Undercroft regulars Seth Gruber and William Andrews are double cast as Colonel Pinkerton. Double cast as Suzuki, Cio-Cio’s maid, are new members of the Undercroft family, Kati Richer and Hilerie Klein-Rensi.
    Madama Butterfly first took root in 1887 in a French, semi-autobiographical novel authored by Pierce Loti,  entitled Madame Chrysantheme.  Nine years later, John Luther Long based his short story Madame Butterfly on this novel and Puccini’s opera, which drew from these works, premiered in 1904, with a libretto by Luigi Illica and Guiseppe Giacosa.  Puccini subsequently revised it several times.  The fifth and last has been the standard revision and is the one Undercroft is presenting.
    Madama Butterfly is a familiar opera to many, as it has been represented in popular culture many times. The musical Miss Saigon is based on Madama Butterfly. The film Fatal Attraction pays homage to the opera with references in the story and with its usage of the Puccini score. Weezer made an album called Pinkerton which is based loosely on the opera. Cio-Cio’s aria, “Un Bel Di”, or “One Beautiful Day”, is often used in television advertisements.
    Undercroft is pleased to announce this production is supported, in part, by Opera Volunteers International and the Heinz Foundation.
    Tickets are available online at

"Admission" - A Dance Premier at Off the Wall Performing Arts Center

 L-R  Cammi Nevarez, Jenna Rae Smith, Glenna Clark, Sara Cohen, Elisa-Marie Alaio Photo Credit: Grace Cohen
    The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “admission” (\əd-ˈmi-shən, ad-\) as “ the act of admitting or allowing something; a statement or action by which someone admits a weakness or fault; the right or permission to enter a place.” Choreographer Elisa-Marie Alaio’s newest dance show “Admission” portrays these meanings, and so much more.
    Admission is an energetic dance production with music by Rick McMasters that explores the various facets of womanhood. Interpreting aspects ranging from the mysteriousness to the emotional to the chaotic ‘order’ that at times permeates our lives, along with the need to both challenge and support one another, Elisa-Marie brings a depth of thoughtful representation to the myriads of women.
     Only when we admit our flaws and weaknesses to ourselves, are we truly able to accept the helping hand of others, to allow others to support us through our ups and downs. Through dance, “Admission” demonstrates the intense power of lifting each other up.
    “Admission” is a celebration of the incredibly strong spirit of women. Every woman is unique and every woman has her own story. On the stage of the Off The WallPperforming Arts Center, 25 W. Main Street in Carnegie, the audience will see six unique women, each with their own story. Only after they have embraced their weaknesses and admitted their need for support from their sisterhood, do they truly achieve their final admission – the right to enter a place, and that place is one of empowerment.

Together, standing strong, these six women represent the power of admission. Together they embody empowerment; together they represent their own unique selves. And to truly have one, you must have the other.

May 29-30 @ 8:00 p.m.; June 4-6 at 8:00 p.m.
Matinee May 31 at 3 p.m.
Tickets $ 5.00 students, $ 15.00 Seniors, $20.00 general admission.
Tickets online:

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