Reviews

“Madama Butterfly”, a perennial favorite with the opera-going public, seems to be, for good or ill, immune to large-scale meddling from directors attempting to impose their own reading on, what is by opera standards, a well-known story. Rarely do productions step outside late 19th/early 20th century Japan, replete with kanzashi hairstyles, colorful kimonos and obi, houses with paper walls adorned with cherry blossom over the entrances, with well-placed bonsai trees and ornate bridges over water features. Not that this has, of course, in any way dimmed audiences’ enthusiasm for Puccini’s masterpiece, with its glorious and easily accessible music, along with its numerous opportunities to view the great divas displaying their artistry. However, as this historical epoch fades further into the past, and the fascination Japan held over Europeans in the latter half of the 19th century is lost, this type of production is becoming increasingly jaded, and its stereotypical images are weighing more heavily upon the work, leading to “Madama Butterfly” becoming overly sentimental and irrelevant. Moreover, the situation has not been helped by Puccini himself, who as a master in the art of stagecraft, took every opportunity to squeeze the last drop of emotion from the piece. Think of Butterfly’s emotionally powerful suicide scene, which on its own is enough to induce tears from the audience. Puccini, however, realizing that it is possible to ratchet up the emotions further, has the young blindfolded child present on stage as a witness to his mother’s death. ...Recensione completa
Alan Neilson