My wife, Judi, and I, along with 1,000 others, had the unforgettable pleasure recently one afternoon of witnessing true grand opera, live at the Baton Rouge River Center Theatre, in a production by our own local opera company, Opéra Louisiane, of one of the most beloved operas of all time, Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly.” For those of us fortunate enough to experience this performance, it was, quite simply, a musical triumph sung by a phenomenal collection of talents accompanied by the Opéra Louisiane Orchestra, under the baton of the company’s boundlessly talented music director, Michael Borowitz. The voices of Cio-Cio-San, sung by Hope Briggs, and Lt. Pinkerton, sung by Chauncey Packer, strong and expressive in their own right, were superbly enhanced by Dennis Jesse and Gwendolyn Jones, and together they filled the hall with some of the greatest music in the history of opera!
I am painfully aware that the phrase “it was a magical evening,” or some variation, is much overused, but for us, and for many of our friends there that Sunday afternoon, it was, indeed, a magical musical experience, and Baton Rouge should be very proud of the fact that its own opera company, founded only seven years ago, was capable of staging such a “magical” performance. To cite just a few comments heard that afternoon by friends and associates:
“It was wonderful. Most moving ‘Butterfly’ we ever saw. Worth every penny.”
“We’re so grateful to you and to the rest of the Opéra Louisiane leadership for putting this on.”
“We absolutely loved it! I was so moved that I cried. My husband kept thanking me for making our decision to go. It was probably the best live performance I’ve ever seen.”
No review of this great musical event in our community would be complete without highlighting the consummate talent and organizational skill of the company’s general director, Leanne Clement, whose work in harmony not only with Mr. Borowitz but the entire Board of Directors and many, many supporters of opera in Baton Rouge brought this great musical event to our city. Under her leadership, Opéra Louisiane has performed free opera for over 25,000 students in our area over the past few years.
As I am sure it is quite obvious, we are very proud of Baton Rouge’s very own opera company, and hope more and more of our fellow citizens will find it in their hearts to support it in its future endeavors.
James A. George
attorney and member, Opéra Louisiane board of directors