Sunday, November 23, 2008

'Butterfly' doesn't take off

Tom Strini in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reviews the Florentine Opera Company's production of Giacomo Puccini's Madama Butterfly.
well-sung, prettily designed, conventional, competent and not especially engaging.

We can put a finger on a handful of problems, all of them small - quibbles, even. But they add up.

We attended Saturday's performance, and I don't take issue with his review. On the other hand the memory of a well-sung Un bel di vedremo can stick with you when all else is forgotten.

P.S. I got to wondering whatever happened to young Pinkerton and discovered Saegusa's 'Butterfly' sequel---Composer takes opera tale from daggers to A-bombs. Shigeaki Saegusa wrote a sequel, unfortunately titled "Jr. Butterfly", that premiered in Tokyo on April 6, 2004, the centennial of the premiere of Puccini's original. Joi Ito summarizes,
It is set before, during and after WWII. The half-Japanese half-American Jr. Butterfly is an intelligence officer for the Americans and falls in love with a Japanese girl. At the core of the story is the love story between Jr. Butterfly and the girl, but the opera covers a lot of ground such as the identity struggle of Jr. Butterfly's chanpon [mixed] background and the intentions of the US vis a vis war with Japan before the war. Also, with Madam Butterfly originally set in Nagasaki, the role of Nagasaki in the closure of the war ties it all together.

BonGusto reported the 52nd Puccini Festival in Torre del Lago, Italy, featured the Sakai City Opera and the first performance outside Japan of Junior Butterfly,
telling the story of Cho cho san and Pinkerton's son, against the background of the second world war and the tragedy of the nuclear bomb. The opera will be performed on the 3rd and 9th August [2006], the latter date celebrating [sic] the 51st anniversary of the Nagasaky [sic] bomb.

The BonGusto report includes more commentary "Upon Jr Butterfly, by Shigeaki Saegusa".

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