Madame Butterfly opens in Grand Junction Saturday, July 26 |

Madame Butterfly opens in Grand Junction Saturday, July 26

Clay Hilley will play B.F. Pinkerton, a naval officer, in High Desert Opera's Madame Butterfly.
Submitted photo |


WHAT: Madame Butterfly by High Desert Opera

WHEN: July 26 through Aug. 2; show starts at 7 p.m.

WHERE: Colorado Mesa University’s Robinson Theatre

COST: $10-$39 per person


Madame Butterfly, a three-act opera composed by Giacomo Puccini and first performed in 1904, will land in Grand Junction July 26 through Aug. 2. Presented by Grand Valley’s High Desert Opera, 7 p.m. performances are planned for Robinson Theatre on Colorado Mesa University’s campus. Tickets range from $10-$39 depending on seat location.

According to High Desert Opera executive director Marnie Werner, “There are definitely reasons [Madame Butterfly] is beloved, and those include its tremendously moving emotional content combined with gorgeous, memorable music. It is about the late 1800s common practice of ‘purchasing’ a bride by military and naval personnel while stationed in Japan. That arrangement was considered temporary and revocable, but in the plot of Madame Butterfly a lot of drama arises when the passion of the relationship creates great attachment, confusion, and loss.”

Originally performed in Italian, High Desert Opera’s rendition features English to promote audience understanding. Professional opera singers will arrive in Grand Junction from Maryland, Georgia, California and Utah for a week and a half of rehearsals before opening night. Local singers and dancers will also be part of the ensemble.

“The melodic themes of Puccini’s Butterfly are exquisite and haunting,” High Desert Opera spokeswoman Marnie Benson said. “It is with much anticipation that I look to witness how the High Desert Opera special orchestra and chorus deal with the high level of technicality in this music.”

Colorado Mesa University music professor Jack Delmore said he started preparing himself for the role of Goro, the marriage broker, last April.

“The more you immerse yourself in the music, the better you understand the character,” Delmore said. “Everybody has to prepare before rehearsal … there’s no luxury of time to get it right. You have to be on the money.”

Other notable performers include Daria Somers (Butterfly), Clay Hill (B.F. Pinkerton), Kathleen Ruhleder (another CMU voice professor who will play Suzuki) and Thom King (Sharpless).

To learn about Madame Butterfly ahead of the showing, Mesa County Libraries will host an educational event on Monday, July 21, at 6 p.m.

“Ed Arnos, a local opera aficionado, will provide insight into some of the principal characters and their emotional motivations,” a Mesa County Libraries news release said. “He will blend the story background with singing techniques and illustrate it all with live performances by several of the professional opera singers from the cast, who will sing excerpts from the opera.”

For more information about High Desert Opera, Madame Butterfly, or to purchase tickets, visit Tickets are also available at Grand Junction’s Roper Music and at the door.

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