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Madame Butterfly, One of the World's Great Love Stories,
Launches the 2012-2013 Season in September 2012 

From September 6-16, 2012, Houston Ballet will revive artistic director Stanton Welch's signature work Madame Butterfly on a program with his one-act ballet Clear. Set to Puccini's memorable score, in an arrangement by John Lanchbery, Madame Butterfly chronicles the love story of the beautiful geisha Cio-Cio San who is betrothed to marry the handsome American, Lieutenant Pinkerton. The production unfolds dramatically on Peter Farmer's picturesque sets, which beautifully evoke the mystery and languor of 19th century Japan. Opening the program is Mr. Welch's explosive and sensual work Clear, set to music by Bach.

Premiered by The Australian Ballet in 1995, Madame Butterfly was Mr. Welch's first full-length ballet. The two-act work tells the story of the beautiful geisha Cio-Cio San who renounces her faith and her family to wed Lieutenant Pinkerton, the handsome American naval officer who is betrothed to another. The centerpiece of the work is a ravishing wedding night pas de deux for Pinkerton and Cio-Cio San, which closes the first act.

Since its premiere, Madame Butterfly has become Mr. Welch's international signature piece, having entered the repertoires of Houston Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada, Royal New Zealand Ballet, Singapore Dance Theatre, Boston Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Ballet West, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.

"Madame Butterfly is a wonderful and famous love story, along the lines of Romeo and Juliet," says Mr. Welch. "Returning to this ballet, Houston audiences will be able to see the maturity of our dancers as they return to roles and bring new levels of richness to the story. It will also be exciting to watch new casts of young company members who are quickly making a name for themselves in the dance world."

At the ballet's Houston premiere, Marene Gustin of the Houston Press wrote, "Houston Ballet needs more story ballets like this one...the company really danced, flowing through the choreography and shining in the storytelling." (September 26, 2002) Houston Ballet last performed Stanton Welch's Madame Butterfly in 2007.

Mr. Welch's Clear is an abstract work, for seven men and one woman, showcasing Houston Ballet's male dancers and set to music by Bach. Noted fashion designer Michael Kors created the costumes for Clear. Sleek and sexy, Mr. Kors's flesh-toned designs focus the attention on the dancers, emphasizing the emotional impact of Mr. Welch's choreography. Mr. Kors, who lives near the Joffrey Ballet School in Chicago, was inspired by the students he sees every day in their layers, which influenced designs for some of his collections. 

When American Ballet Theatre premiered Clear on October 25, 2001 in New York City, Anna Kisselgoff of The New York Times enthused:

Seven Men And One Woman Equals Explosion

Clear is already the major hit of American Ballet Theater's season. The choreography is explosive, fiercely danced by seven men with no show of diminished energy by the sole woman in the cast. Yet under the almost aggressive exuberance there is a hint of sadness, resolved finally in the comfort of a lover's embrace....

Above all Clear is a work that uses classical technique but not classical style. That is, it is not a classical ballet. (Think Balanchine or Petipa.) But it explores the academic dance idiom in depth. Mr. Welch knows how to play around with that idiom: Clear has a contemporary look but not the self-consciousness about the ballet vocabulary sometimes seen in Ballet Theater's works by modern-dance choreographers.

This naturalness extends to the way Mr. Welch has matched the ferocity of his fast footwork with the delicate sound of the violin and oboe in Bach....

As a choreographer Mr. Welch, 32, is something of a chameleon. When The Australian Ballet introduced his work to Americans at the Kennedy Center in Washington in 1994, the roots of his British-derived classical training were obvious. But so was his rebellion against tradition. Clear is a variation on that theme; the early promise is being fulfilled."    (October 30, 2001)