Madama Butterfly

Raquel Gonzalez as Cio-Cio San
Raquel González as Cio-Cio San
Amanda Tipton Photography
Given the seizure this week of an Iranian oil tanker by the British Navy, and the sabotage of a Japanese tanker two weeks before that, the timeliness of Central City Opera's production of Giacomo Puccini's classic story—set during the early phase of the era of gunboat diplomacy, after the opening of Japan by U.S. Navy Commodore Matthew Perry—couldn't be better. As the libretto notes:

Cody Austin as Lt. Benjamin F. Pinkerton
Cody Austin as Lt. Benjamin F. Pinkerton
Amanda Tipton Photography

"All over the world, the vagabond Yankee takes pleasure and profit, indifferent to all risks," sings Pinkerton. "He does what he pleases wherever he goes, so I'm marrying in Japanese fashion for nine hundred and ninety-nine years, except that I can free myself every month."

(Left to right) Raquel Gonzalez as Cio-Cio San and Annie Rosen as Suzuki
(L to R) Raquel González as Cio-Cio San
and Annie Rosen as Suzuki
Amanda Tipton Photography

Director Alison Moritz' production captures the classical elegance of Japan in transition, from the sublime cherry blossoms and Zen-like set (Dany Lyne), as well as Cio-Cio San's (Raquel González) bright Geisha kimono, to western influences on Japanese wardrobes (bowlers and jackets), as well as the stylish suit of the United States consul at Nagasaki, Sharpless (Troy Cook), and Lt. Benjamin F. Pinkerton's (Cody Austin) period naval uniforms (also Lyne).

Cody Austin as Lt. Benjamin F. Pinkerton
Amanda Tipton Photography
González is translucent as the innocent and devout Cio-Cio San, Madama Butterfly, her soaring arias embued with the full emotional depth and breadth of Butterfly's heartfelt dreams of love. Austin's lyrical tenor stands as a strong statement of the power Pinkerton represents, and despite the officer's jaded philosphy, shows his intoxication with Butterfly, blending perfectly with González' soprano. Cook's warm, musclular baritone, embodies Sharpless as the voice of reason, of which Pinkerton takes no heed, until it is too late. Annie Rosen's plaintive mezzo, as Suzuki, carries the weight of knowing Cio-Cio San's fate. In the broadest sense, the tragedy is not only Cio-Cio San's, but Pinkerton's eternal remorse and the loss of our own innocence and idealism.

Adam Turner and the 59-piece Festival Orchestra work wonders with Puccini's emotionally complex and touching score. The acoustics of the hall, and the mix of vocals and music, are superb from every seat.

Central City Opera's presentation of Madama Butterfly runs through August 4th. For tickets:

Bob Bows

  Current Reviews | Home | Webmaster

If you enjoy our work, please Like our website.