THESSALONIKI – The current situation in Iraq points out the timeless qualities of Giacomo Puccini’s opera «Madama Butterfly,» the fourth opera produced so far by the Thessaloniki Concert Hall. And its relevance goes even further than the plot by actually influencing the artists’ interpretations. The anxiety caused by his role as the principal cause of pain to a betrayed Japanese woman was noted by American-Italian tenor Carlo Scibelli, who interprets the role of Lieut. B.F. Pinkerton. «The opera has to do with what is happening in Iraq with the American soldiers, and this means something to the audience. This situation ultimately affects my performance,» Scibelli admitted at a recent press conference. Legendary Italian soprano Renata Scotto, who directed the performance, also put across her own view, relating the opera’s timelessness to women’s often dramatic destiny throughout history. «Besides,» said Scotto, «in those days, America was the exotic land, unknown to the world, while in the original libretto the lieutenant was not an American, but a Frenchman.» The Italian diva, whose exemplary career includes more than 100 roles and countless awards, undertook the role of Cho-Cho-San for the first time at the age of 19, while the same opera became her directorial debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1986. «While directing the opera, I tried to reveal all of the heroine’s tragic elements, while at the same time I was able to fully understand the palette of emotion with which Puccini colored the rest of the characters.» In the role of «Madama Butterfly,» the young woman who opts for an honorable death is Greek soprano Maroussa Xini. The rest of the cast includes Victoria Mayfatova, Marissia Papalexiou, Constantinos Katsaras, Nikos Kapetas and Dimitris Tiliakos. The city’s State Symphony Orchestra is conducted by Marcello Panni. Also participating is the Thessaloniki Choir, under the direction of Mary Constantinidou. «Madama Butterfly,» at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall, 25th Martiou & Paralia, tel 2310.895.800. Performances tonight, Friday and Sunday.