25 May 2017

"Madame Butterfly" at The Kennedy Center

I'll post only a few words about the production of Puccini's Madame Butterfly we saw this past Saturday evening. We make the trip to the Kennedy Center about every other year to see an opera. Two years ago it was for La Boheme, another masterwork of Puccini. In the interim we usually get our opera fixes in Richmond.

Italian operas tend toward the melodramatic and Madame Butterfly is no exception. Yet it would take a cold heart not to be moved by the power of Puccini's score and the performance of Ermonela Jaho as Butterfly. Whomever is cast as Butterfly must be a soprano of strength and endurance, and Jaho certainly fit the bill. (The part of Butterfly is so draining that the director rotated three performers among the thirteen shows.) As a British reviewer put it here, "Jaho doesn't just sing Butterfly, she becomes Butterfly." You can listen to her in the trailer here for a few seconds.

Everything about the production was top-notch from the other performers, the orchestra, and the spare but meaningful scenery. I wish I could advise my readers to catch a performance but we saw the penultimate show and no more remain. I am confident, however, that Jaho will star in other productions so keep an eye open for one.

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