MADAME BUTTERFLY - a review by Henry Hossner

Puccini's MADAME BUTTERFLY at the Seattle Opera

This past Sunday, I saw the classic Puccini opera Madame Butterfly at the Seattle Opera for the first time.

The set was a series of Japanese doors, revolving around center stage. This device was simple and effective in pulling the viewer into the scene. It was lit with many colorful lights, primarily pink, white and red, which changed to create dramatic effects for the storyline.

The orchestra, with conductor Carlo Montanaro, gave a somewhat sloppy prelude to the show, but improved as the show progressed. Dominick Chenes gave a beautifully confident B. F. Pinkerton, while baritone Weston Hurt, a favorite of mine, gave a gorgeous Sharpless.

Yasko Sato, having sung the role of Madame Butterfly many times, gave her U.S. debut with this role. She seemed to struggle a bit the first act, but really pulled through in the second and third acts, delivering a delicious ‘Un bel di vedremo.’

There was a bit of a lull in the storyline at the end of act two. Madame Butterfly was waiting for her husband to arrive, and the audience waited with her. Although there was a lot of waiting, the orchestra made up for this with a beautifully melancholy sound, known as the “Humming Chorus.”

I don’t feel that Madame Butterfly is Puccini’s best opera by any means (see ‘Tosca’), yet I still can’t stop thinking about it. I particularly like sad stories. All of the components worked together to create a youthful, innocent hope that you, as the audience, know is doomed.

Written by Henry Hossner, former TeenTix New Guardian and recent TeenTix alumni!

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