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Opera Columbus aims to show magic with ‘Madama Butterfly’

Priti Ghandi (as Cio-Cio) and Espen Elfers (as Sorrow) in ‘Madama Butterfly,’ which is scheduled to run at the Southern Theatre Nov. 20, Nov. 22 and Nov. 24.  Credit: Courtesy of Kyle Widder

Priti Ghandi (as Cio-Cio) and Espen Elfers (as Sorrow) in ‘Madama Butterfly,’ which is scheduled to run at the Southern Theatre Nov. 20, Nov. 22 and Nov. 24.
Credit: Courtesy of Kyle Widder

A new opera has landed in Columbus.

Opera Columbus along with Ohio State’s Department of Theatre and School of Music is set to present its rendition of “Madama Butterfly” this weekend. The show is set to be held at the Southern Theatre with a preview performance Wednesday at 2 p.m. and regular performances scheduled for Friday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Opera Columbus is a local nonprofit group dedicated to promoting opera in Columbus and performing opera shows for Columbus residents.

Peggy Kriha Dye, Opera Columbus’ general manager, said they hope the performance of “Madama Butterfly” will help “revitalize” Columbus’ opera scene, a goal of Opera Columbus.

“This show is very significant for us and for the company,” Kriha Dye said. “‘Madama Butterfly’ marks the return of locally produced opera.”

“Madama Butterfly” was written in 1903 by Giacomo Puccini and tells the story of a young Japanese girl married to an American soldier at the turn of the 20th century.

“‘Madama Butterfly’ is a homerun,” Kriha Dye said. “The music is recognizable … it’s such a classic story.”

Some of the show’s cast members are excited to perform the famous piece.

“Puccini is one of the masters of putting words and music together. It’s simply incredible,” said Olga Perez Flora, who plays Suzuki, the maid of the titular character, Madama Butterfly.

Perez Flora said she is excited to share the story of Suzuki with the audience.

“Suzuki is a soul sister for Madama Butterfly,” Perez Flora said. “It really is a beautiful friendship.”

Perez Flora is an Arizona native who came to Columbus to get her doctorate degree in vocal performance from OSU before being hired by Opera Columbus. She said she has been impressed with the overall quality of the “Madama Butterfly” production.

“My castmates are simply beautiful,” Perez Flora said. “This is one of those shows where everyone is at a high level of talent.”

Opera Columbus has been collaborating with Ohio State’s Departments of Theatre and Music for this performance, said Daniel Gray, a chairman for the Department of Theater.

Gray said the stage manager for “Madama Butterfly” will be OSU graduate Jackie Benedict.

Kriha Dye also commented on OSU’s involvement with this production, stating about half of the chorus for this show will be OSU students.

Both Gray and Kriha Dye said they expect the relationship between Opera Columbus and OSU’s Music and Theatre Departments to grow and strengthen as time progresses.

Perez Flora said she really wants to see audience members get lost in the childlike magic of opera.

“Opening night, you hit that stage and get in a zone … when I get in a zone, it becomes really magical,” Perez Flora said. “I want the audience to open their ears, to think about how the words and music come together.”

Kriha Dye said Columbus has been yearning for that opera magic.

“We already reached our financial goal for this show, which is really rare for a nonprofit.” Kriha Dye said. “It really shows that Columbus wants this.”

Tickets for Wednesday’s preview are available for $18.75 after fees, and ticket prices for Friday’s and Sunday’s performance vary. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster.

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