Spectacular Madama Butterfly

The Canadian Opera Company (COC) has opened a spectacular production of Giacomo Puccini‘s Madama Butterfly Friday night at the Four Seasons Centre.  The production starred Patricia Racette (Cio-Cio San), Stefano Secco (Pinkerton), Elizabeth DeShong (Suzuki), Dwayne Croft (Sharpless), and Julius Ahn (Goro.)  The performance was conducted by Maestro Patrick Lange, and directed by Brian Macdonald.

The production takes a more literal interpretation of the opera, with a traditional set, and period costumes.  But this makes perfect sense and allowed the all star cast to take centre stage, which they did.

Ms. Racette, making her COC début in this production, owns the the role of Madama Butterfly.  Ms. Racette’s performance was extremely moving and the audience is left in tears at the end of the performance.  Her Butterfly loves Pinkerton totally and was left devastated by his lack of commitment to their marriage.

Mr. Secco’s Pinkerton was your typical sailor – Butterfly was no more than his fling in the latest port.  While his character does become distressed about what his ‘marriage’ has done to Butterfly in Act 3, his performance leaves you wondering if he really did love Butterfly or not.

Elizabeth DeShong’s Suzuki was the ultimate faithful servant.  Even though she understands that Pinkerton has abandoned Butterfly in Act 2, she still gives Goro a good beating for telling stories in town, and is overcome with grief when she finds out that Pinkerton has returned only to claim his son.  No one had as loyal of a servant.

Dwayane Croft’s Sharpless was stellar.  One can get from the start that he actually cares for, and understands, Butterfly.  He is not happy with Pinkerton’s use of a temporary marriage, understanding that the young Butterfly likely takes this as a real marriage.  During the second and third acts, he if physically overcome with guilt – as he sees how much Butterfly loves Pinkerton, and how Pinkerton has only destroyed Butterfly’s chance at happiness.

Maestro Lange’s conducting was superb.  The orchestration was tender and moving all evening long.  The prelude to the Act 3 was splendid and if it was not for the singing in the production, you would not want it to end.

All in all, this is a production you must see.  There are only a limited number of performances left, as the production ends on October 31st.  If you get the chance to go, you should.  This production will blow you away.

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