March 7th, 2009


Doomed Love, Glorious Doomed Love

A Classy Afternoon

It was supposed to be torrential downpours and flooding around Holland this afternoon. Thankfully it didn't, because we had tickets to The Met: Live in HD broadcast, live from The Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center in New York. At just over fifty, Mrs. Dr. Phil and I were some of the youngest people in the audience. Not sure what, if anything, that says about opera in America in the first decade of the 20th century.

Madama Butterfly
Holland 7, Theatre #5, $22

I've known the music from Pucini's opera for a long time, and we both thought we'd seen a performance on TV before, but it must've been concert footage and not the whole opera. (We have seen a road production of Miss Saigon at MSU's Wharton Center, which has the same roots.) So this was quite a treat. First, kudos to the Holland 7, whose Theatre #5 is set up as an auditorium with no center aisle and wide spacing between the rows. Second, like any digital HD broadcast, the sound and image, especially projected on a large screen, is stunnerifically spectacular, up until you hit a break in the data stream.

"Patricia Racette returns to the title role of Anthony Minghella’s stunning production, a new classic of the Met repertory, opposite Marcello Giordani."

This production features very minimalist sets, which allows you to focus on the costumes, acting and singing. Second, rather than use a live human child, they instead utilized a puppet operated by three people (head & left hand, both feet, back & right hand), with puppeteers clothed in black. The motions were amazingly lifelike and fit the mood better than trying to get a small child to act in the middle of a hugely dramatic opera.

Of course everyone talks of the doomed love of Cio-Cio-San for Lt. Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton, but frankly her maid Suzuki and the American consul and go-between Sharpless also suffer mightily at Pinkerton's thoughtlessness. Sharpless in this production was particularly good.

There are supposed to be US encores on March 18 and 19, a Wednesday and Thursday, at (some of?) those theatres supporting The Met: Live in HD broadcasts.
Highly Recommend

Dr. Phil