Cio-Cio San Fell for an American Officer.
And the rest is history. Girl meets boy – girl and boy fall in love – boy has to go away – girl is with child - girl left on her own with a kid – tragic ending. This oh! So very modern tale defies time and places. In a modern world, one can easily imagine a teenage girl impregnated by a casual lover who then leaves her and never bothers to call.
For three very long years, Butterfly romantically awaits the return of her husband, finding him all kinds of excuses for not inquiring about her, or even send a note to her house.
But this story has another tragic twist, and one of the major differences is that in the Japan of geishas, honor, respect, silence and suffering were the lot of their existence. Geishas never had an easy life. Madame Butterfly could have been any Jane Doe born in America today.
Madame Chrysanthème was a French novel based on the autobiography of a naval officer who met a Japanese young girl when he was stationed in Nagasaki. He did marry her, but the Japanese way of the days, which was easily fixed and sorted out when the time would be for him to find an American wife.
Inspired by that novel, and another short story by David Belasco, Madama Butterfly became the opera in three acts written by Puccini in Italian and premiered in February 1904 at the Scala Theater in Milan, Italy.
Since, the difficult musical score of Madame Butterfly has become of classic staple of all operatic repertoire around the world, ranked 6th in preference, where Puccini’s other major success, La Bohème, occupies the 3rd place.
Big-hearted Texans are sentimental, and there are very few more heart-rending operas than Madame Butterfly. In Dallas this month, opera lovers have the privilege of hearing Hui He in the role of Cio-Cio-San/Butterfly.
The Chinese soprano is one of the most famous interpreters of Butterfly today. Her Asian ancestry and look only add dramatic character to the role of the Japanese woman. The regal resonance of her voice largely fills the hall of the opera house with forceful but never forced high notes.
Rome-born tenor Gianluca Terranova sings the part of Officer B.F. Pinkerton, in his native language – adding ease and richness to the drama. While not quite the physically tall and gangly officer one could fathom in a crisp uniform, he nevertheless amplifies his sorrow with a majestic muscle voice.
The background and kimonos of the rest of the stage members are all very simple, in fact, basic earth tone colors are used to let the story stand out more than colorful and detailed kimonos could ever do.
The Dallas Winspear Opera House.
The amazing retractable LED chandelier in the center of the house lets you know when time has come to stop the chatter and put away your glass of Champagne. Its slow ascent into the dark domed ceiling is quite a majestic sight and turns into a starry ceiling before fading away into the sky night.
Designed by architects Foster + Partners, the crimson building soars right above the ground like a bloody sacred rock resembling the Australian Uluru of the Aboriginals. The airy solar canopy extending from the building protects a convivial plaza to sit and wait and walk without being exposed to the elements.
More Info: “Madame Butterfly” at The Dallas Opera
2403 Flora Street, Dallas, TX 75201
Several performance dates through March 26, 2017.