I had never seen Madame Butterfly until Friday evening at Music Hall. I knew the broad outlines of the story, and disliked it – as I dislike Romeo and Juliet. So wasteful. Dying young without cause. And in Butterfly’s case, as I found out, dying in front of her son – leaving him to strangers. Ugh.
And yet – it might well be the most beautiful opera I have every heard. I was, of course, familiar with the music, particularly Un Belle Di, which runs its thread throughout the story. Heart-wrenchingly wonderful, and beautifully played.
The singers were excellent. The shortness of the tenor and bad guy Pinkerton was off-putting, but the performances were exactly right. A great treat – but I am never going to like that story.
And it seems to me there’s a general anti-American trend to the story, perhaps prevalent in Italy at the turn of the century before this. It wasn’t off-putting, but was noticeable. We were as a country definitely flexing our war muscles in several locations around the planet – so perhaps other countries were feeling as many of them are right now.
I’m glad I saw the opera once – it is a masterpiece. And I need to come to terms with the fact that the new paradigm now coming is not yet reflected in opera, though it is in many arts. Can’t wait til it shows up in opera, one of my favorite art forms!