The Indianapolis Opera presents Madama Butterfly at Butler University’s Clowes Memorial Hall, the evening on September 23 and the afternoon of the 25th.
Puccini’s opera is a tragic East-meets-West story. The heroine, Cio-Cio San, abandons her faith and her heritage for the dashing but feckless American sailor, Lieutenant Pinkerton. In the end, she sacrifices herself for their child.
A Mezzo From A Musical Family
Mezzo soprano Sarah Heltzel sings the role of Cio-Cio San’s faithful Suzuki. She’s from Gloucester, Massachusetts and comes from a musical family. “We all played and sang. In college I took the usual broad range of liberal arts classes, and was encouraged to sing professionally.”
Lots Of Styles, But Opera Won Out!
Although there are a lot of different styles for singers, Heltzel chose opera. “It just brought together so many of my interests, languages, visual arts, theatre. As Wagner says, it’s gesamtkunstwerk–the total artwork.”
A New Role From A New Part Of The Globe
Heltzel is a veteran of roles as varied as the Bizet’s temptress Carmen, Strauss’s bored Prince Orlovsky and Mozart’s innocent Cherubino. They’re each different, but all definitely western. Suzuki is definitely eastern, it’s a new role this season, and it has unique challenges. “She’s quite special,” Heltzel says.
A Role That’s More Acting Than Singing
“Suzuki is on stage for almost the entire opera. It’s in part through her devotion that the audience comes to feel so strongly for Butterfly. She doesn’t sing a lot, but when she and Butterfly sing their joyous flower song, it’s glorious music.”