Saturday, 22 March 2014

Madama Butterfly

This year's Opera on Sydney Harbour is Puccini's Madama Butterfly the story of the 15 years old Japanese girl taken as a bride by a visiting US naval officer who remains faithful to her foreign husband even as it becomes clear he has abandoned her once his visit has ended.

Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour Madama Butterfly
In this interpretation, if I have understood it correctly, the events are updated to contemporary Japanese history with the first act occurring before the disastrous tsunami and the second/third acts taking place post the tsunami.

Pinkerton is a property developer rather than a naval officer and displaced persons inhabit his damaged and unfinished properties post the tsunami. The Bonze becomes a gangster godfather type figure. For the most part I found this interpretation very convincing.

A grassy hill is the stage for the first act with an outdoor wedding and reception. As it happened steady rain fell for the most of this act but the performers did not miss a beat.

The performance space 30 minutes before commencement of the opera
The rain tumbled during an extended interval...

... as stage hands converted the grassy hill into damaged/unfinished property development for Acts 2 and 3.

Alternates perform the key characters. I wish I knew which alternates were performing tonight as the Butterfly was quite brilliant and Pinkerton and Suzuki were very strong.

The amplified sound was perhaps a little loud, especially in Act 1, but otherwise this was as enjoyable and interesting a Madama Butterfly as I have seen.

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