The Metropolitan Opera HD Live: Season 3, Episode 9

Puccini: Madama Butterfly (7 Mar. 2009)

TV Episode  -   -  Music
8.5
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On shore leave in Japan, Lt. Pinkerton is ready for action and finds it in a wedding broker. Cio-Cio-San naively believes the marriage is real. Wait until the real Mrs. Pinkerton hears about this: there's sure to be a Little Trouble ahead.

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Title: Puccini: Madama Butterfly (07 Mar 2009)

Puccini: Madama Butterfly (07 Mar 2009) on IMDb 8.5/10

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Patricia Racette ...
Marcello Giordani ...
Dwayne Croft ...
Maria Zifchak ...
Greg Fedderly ...
Laura Fries ...
Cio-Cio-San's Relatieves - Cousin
Linda Mays ...
Cio-Cio-San's Relatieves - Mother
Jean Braham ...
Cio-Cio-San's Relatieves - Aunt
Stephen Paynter ...
Cio-Cio-San's Relatieves - Uncle Yakuside
Keith Miller ...
Christian Jeong ...
Dean Peterson ...
David Won ...
Edyta Kulczak ...
Kevin Augustine ...
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Storyline

On shore leave in Japan, Lt. Pinkerton is ready for action and finds it in a wedding broker. Cio-Cio-San naively believes the marriage is real. Wait until the real Mrs. Pinkerton hears about this: there's sure to be a Little Trouble ahead.

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7 March 2009 (USA)  »

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User Reviews

 
Brilliantly imagined, breathtaking stagework and sets
14 September 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Let me tell you, the sets and staging in this were breathtakingly beautiful, beyond mere mortal description, and I was captivated from the very first moment. I felt sure this was going to be my favorite "Butterfly" ever! I was absolutely mesmerized.

However, it didn't fulfill its promise 100%. About the end of Act 2, my enthusiasm was flagging a bit, for the following reasons:

*There weren't any intermissions or curtains or interludes -- only one long 3-hour act with various on-stage scene changes. Exhausting!

*There was no child, but instead an odd-looking stringless puppet, operated stringlessly by two puppeteers in black, right there onstage with all four of their hands on the puppet.

*Instead of the the humming chorus and the Act 2/3 entr'acte-prelude being at a curtain, there was no curtain, but instead a dream ballet sequence was acted out onstage with yet another odd-looking puppet representing the dream-Cio-Cio-San, alongside the real Cio-Cio-San keeping her sitting vigil onstage.

*Act 3 was in total blackness, sky-wise. It's supposed to be morning, daylight! But it was totally black, and the stage got blacker and blacker as it went on. By the end nothing was onstage except the black floor, black sky, and Cio-Cio-San, and the puppet running to and fro (finally he went to the side with his blindfold). Cio-Cio-San does her thing with the dagger, red lights pour over her, and that's it. Pinkerton, in spite of his offstage "Butterfly!"s, arrives onstage much too late and without any dramatic effect whatsoever.

*Because of all of the latter, and the lack of curtains and intermissions, I was exhausted by the end. The lack of daylight or scenery made the end (and indeed the whole last act) flat and dull. The blackness and starkness of the final moment made it emotionless and perfunctory. This was only reinforced by Pinkerton not being there in good time.

I didn't even cry. I always cry at the end of this opera. Boy, what a let-down! As far as the rest of it: I missed hearing James Levine's lush conducting, Patrick Summers was only OK. The singing was adequate; as often happens, the supporting characters sang wonderfully and the principles had a few problems, though Patricia Racette as Cio-Cio-San quickly overcame hers and became very good.

Anyway, I'm so very glad I saw this stunning production, especially the first two acts, which were really unbelievable -- I forgot to mention the wonderful use of dancer-stagehands in black, choreographing the scenery and lanterns and other wonderfully indescribable things. It was a joy to watch, and though the end didn't live up to the beginning, it was a lovely work of art, brilliantly and courageously imagined.

It's well worth seeing for the brilliant sets and staging, so I encourage you to check it out and let it take your breath away.


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