Back in the early years of the twentieth century, “Ravinia Opera” was the summer opera capital of the country, a tradition that James Conlon has revived since becoming Ravinia music director and which should particularly thrive now that he is music director of the Los Angeles Opera, similar to James Levine using his Metropolitan Opera music directorship to the advantage of his Ravinia music directorship for decades. And though some might quibble about Conlon’s choice of one of the most popular operatic warhorses that is heard far too often already for this year’s opera, at least with the currently top-reigning Butterfly Patrica Racette in the lead—who sang the role to great acclaim with Conlon last year in L.A. and is taking the role to the Met later this year—along with Conlon conducting the Chicago Symphony, the sound should be glorious. Too bad Ravinia insists on skimping by not having the CSO Chorus participate as well, although unlike last week’s Placido Domingo Gala, which provided neither texts nor supertitles, at least there will be supertitles to follow Cio-Cio San’s singing suicide after her abandonment by her arrogant American husband. Tenor James Valenti, who sang the role at the New York City Opera last season and is replacing celebrated but aging tenor Frank Lopardo, who cancelled June 19, citing “personal reasons,” will sing Pinkerton, and mezzo-soprano Ning Liang, who starred in the Frederic Mitterand 1995 film version of “Butterfly” as Suzuki reprises that role here (Conlon conducted the score for that film). (Dennis Polkow)
Ravinia Festival, Lake-Cook at Green Bay Roads, (847)266-5100. Sat 7:30pm. This production is now closed.