San Francisco Opera's Upcoming Butterfly Has Change of Pinkerton

Classic Arts News   San Francisco Opera's Upcoming Butterfly Has Change of Pinkerton
A new Pinkerton has joined the second cast of the Madama Butterfly revival opening this weekend at San Francisco Opera. James Valenti, a 29-year-old tenor with a rapidly rising career in Europe, will sing the Dec. 6 and 8 (evening) performances of the Puccini favorite; he replaces Alfredo Portilla, who is, according to a statement released by the company yesterday, withdrawing so as to focus on his Macduff in the current San Francisco run of Verdi's Macbeth.

A graduate of Philadelphia's Academy of Vocal Arts, Valenti has been making a string of appearances at prestigious venues since his 2003 professional debut at the Opera di Roma. Over the past two years, he has performed at La Monnaie in Brussels, the Hamburg State Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Dresden Semperoper, and the Ravinia and Salzburg Festivals, among others. He made his New York City Opera debut in 2006 as Rodolfo in La Bohème, a performance for which he won the Betty Allen Prize from the company. Valenti's debuts at La Scala, Covent Garden, the Paris Opera and the Liceu in Barcelona are already scheduled.

This production of Madama Butterfly was an extraordinary success for San Francisco Opera in the summer of 2006, selling out nine performances and marking a major triumph for Patricia Racette in the title role. So high was popular demand for tickets that, well after the 2007-08 season had been announced, the company added five performances to its schedule for next month.

Racette returns for three of those dates (Dec. 1, 5 and 8 matinee), alternating with Marie Plette as Cio-Cio-San. Sharing the role of Pinkerton with Valenti will be Richard Tucker Award winner Brandon Jovanovich. Mezzo Zheng Cao, a company stalwart, sings Suzuki, with baritone Stephen Powell as Sharpless. San Francisco Opera music director Donald Runnicles will conduct Racette and Jovanovich, with Julian Smith on the podium for the Plette/Valenti performances.

Information on and tickets for San Francisco Opera's Madama Butterfly are available at

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