Friday, April 5, 2013
There are just two performances of the Orlando Philharmonic's production of Giacomo Puccini's, Madama Butterfly. One performance is tonight (April 5th) at 8pm and the other performance is Sunday (April 7th) at 2PM. You can get tickets at orlandophil.org, or at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Center box office two hours before each show.
I went to a dress rehearsal. I entered via the stage door at the same time as the set designer Lisa Buck. This was a semi-staged production, so the set was kept pretty simple. A really nice touch was that Lisa projected images on a large screen behind the orchestra. The images would change between each emotional shift in the opera. Over 100 of the gorgeous images added much to the production.
Since I was sketching, I didn't have time to look up at the closed caption translations above the stage. Since I was seated in the front rows I would have had to crane my neck. I've seen Madama Butterfly before however so I knew the story. If you have never seen an opera before, then I would encourage you to see butterfly. It could very well make you a convert.
Before the opera began, a gardener shuffled out and raked the gravel in the rock garden. He might not be a major character in the plot but I had to catch him. In the first act, Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton, a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, played by Brian Jagde, fell in love with Cio-Cio San, Madam Butterfly played by Shu-Ying Li and there is a glorious marriage ceremony. Butterfly converts to Pinkerton's christian faith to be closer to him and she is renounced by her uncle a Buddhist priest. Pinkerton leaves Japan and three years later Butterfly is penniless with his son who she named sorrow.
Butterfly hears the sound of a cannon from the harbor and she is sure that Pinkerton's ship has returned. She stands vigil overnight, waiting and ever hopeful. Pinkerton does finally return, but with his American wife. Love lost leads to tragic consequences.