John Deaderick: ‘Madama Butterfly’ showing in Grass Valley
Special to Prospector
Know & Go
WHO: Sierra Cinemas The Metropolitan Opera Live in HD
WHAT: Madama Butterfly
WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 9 at 9:55 a.m.
WHERE: Sierra Cinemas, E. Main Street Grass Valley
TICKETS: $23 Adults, $21 Seniors, $18 Children 12 and under & students with ID; Available online at www.sierratheaters.com or at the Sierra Cinemas Box Office
INFO: www.sierratheaters.com, 530-477-9000
Grass Valley’s Sierra Cinemas presents Giacomo Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” as the latest offering of The Met Opera Live in HD.
The late director Anthony Minghella’s award-winning film work included “Cold Mountain,” “The Talented Mr. Ripley” and “The English Patient.” He brought his singular vision to the operatic world in 2006 with a new presentation of “Madama Butterfly,” in revival at the Met. The look of this beautiful, heartbreaking production is at once minimal yet rich and sumptuous.
In the open port of Nagasaki as the 19th century turns into the 20th, a fifteen-year old girl converts to Christianity in order to marry an American sailor. For this, Cio-Cio-san (Butterfly) is abandoned by her family and community. For the American B. F. Pinkerton, the marriage is one of sexual convenience. He has no idea of the depth of Cio-Cio-san’s commitment. Shortly after the marriage, Pinkerton departs, leaving Cio-Cio-san to pine for his return, as she gives birth to and raises their son. When Pinkerton returns with his new American wife Kate, the shallow Naval officer realizes the heartlessness of his actions.
From the opening chords, Puccini, ever the master colorist, transports the listener to his musical vision of the Far East, albeit an Italianate one. The opening of Japan to the West in mid-nineteenth century generated a wave of fascination with the arts and culture of this mysterious land. Japonisme brought new modes of expression in art, fashion, architecture, and music. Western culture eagerly appropriated Japanese motifs, adapting them into Western forms. Puccini rides the crest of this appropriation. One may see in Butterfly a metaphor for the Western Imperialist thrust into the heart of an alien culture. The West, embodied here in Pinkerton, has found the East intriguing yet mystifying, failing miserably in its arrogance and sense of superiority to comprehend the profound cultural divides.
“Madama Butterfly” has remained among the most performed and favored of operatic works since its premiere in 1904. It contains one of the most recognizable of all soprano arias, “Un bel di” (One fine day), that Butterfly sings as she hopes and prays for her husband’s return to her from across the sea. Here is where the heartbreak becomes so deeply felt, foreshadowing the harrowing conclusion. Soprano Hui He performs the title role, opposite Andrea Carè as Pinkerton. As good as it gets.
John Deaderick is a local theatre artist and the author of Make Sweet the Minds of Men: Early Opera and Tragic Catharsis, available at Amazon.com.
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