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Jonason reprises 'Madama Butterfly' on PAC stage

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The D’Angelo Opera Theatre at Mercyhurst University presents the Puccini classic Madama Butterfly this month, reprising the first opera staged at the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center when it opened in 1996.

Louisa Jonason sang the title role in 1996, shortly after joining the Mercyhurst faculty. Butterfly had been her signature role; she performed the part a record 300+ times during a successful career with the New York City Opera.

This time Jonason is the production’s artistic director, and her protégé – senior Alexa Zeramenko – will be featured as the geisha whose unrequited love for an American naval officer ends in tragedy. Jonason said she’s always wanted to repeat the popular show. When she heard Zeramenko sing Butterfly’s popular aria Un bel di as a freshman, she knew she had found the right performer to do it.

The role of Pinkerton will be sung by tenor Brandon Alan Miller. Seven-year-old Trenton Maldet, a first-grader at Fairview Elementary School, will be featured as Butterfly’s son, Dolore (Sorrow).

The production team also includes James Bobick as stage director, Thomas Octave as conductor and Michael Gleason as technical director.

By coincidence, Mercyhurst graduate Mary Beth Sederburgh (who played Suzuki here in 1996) was also planning to stage Madama Butterfly this spring with her Undercroft Opera company in Pittsburgh. The two companies agreed to share certain aspects of the production: Gleason has created a set that can be reassembled and reused later in Pittsburgh, and Undercroft agreed to rent Mercyhurst’s costumes for their show.

Performances of Madama Butterfly are scheduled for Friday, April 17, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 19, at 2 p.m. in the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center on the Mercyhurst campus. Tickets are $15.50 for adults; $12.50 for seniors and students; and $5 for youths 12 and under and Mercyhurst students with ID.

They can be reserved online at or by calling 824-3000.