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New York City Opera offers Italian classics

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This season, New York City Opera is performing two exciting Italian operas: Puccini's Madama Butterfly and Handel's Partenope.

Madama Butterfly, left. Partenope, right. Photos courtesy of New York City Opera.

You might not immediately associate these works with Italian culture due to their subject matter (Madama Butterfly is set in Nagasaki, Japan and portrays a geisha whose love for an American naval officer ends tragically) or author (Partenope was written by German-born George Frideric Handel), respectively. But both include Italian librettos (text used in a musical work); additionally Madama Butterfly premiered at the famed Teatro alla Scala opera house in Milan, while Partenope features a cast of characters that includes the Queen of Naples.

New York City Opera's take on Madama Butterfly, which opened last week, is receiving rave reviews. Catch performances through Sunday, April 18, 2010. Tickets start at $12.

Meanwhile, the upcoming run of Handel's Baroque classic Partenope receives a modern spin for its gender-bending tales of royal passions and intrigue. Performances run from April 3-17; tickets start at $12 as well.

Founded in 1943, New York City Opera has been celebrated for its risk-taking style and edgy productions. It shares a facility with New York City Ballet at Manhattan's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

Take a peek behind the scenes with this YouTube clip:

Have you been to any of their performances of Madama Butterfly? If so, tell us what you thought!