Saturday, November 13, 2010

SFO: Madama Butterfly

On Thursday night I heard SF Opera's Madama Butterfly, with conductor Julian Kovatchev taking over from Luisotti & soprano Daniela Dessì replacing the poorly-received Svetla Vassileva. The orchestra sounded light under Maestro Kovatchev, whom I thought dragged. Musically, it was a timid performance overall. The final act seemed to get slower & slower, & the singers often pulled at the orchestra. The principals Stefano Secco & Daniela Dessì have nicely Italianate voices, & Secco has very secure high notes. Ms. Dessì has a soft voice that suggests Butterfly's youth & fragility. She & Maestro Kovatchev did not seem to have agreed on a tempo for "Un bel di", so it did not quite build like it should. My favorite performances were from mezzo Daveda Karanas as Suzuki & Quinn Kelsey as Sharpless. Neither sounds underpowered, & both created strong characterizations.

The picturesque production may be starting to date & look a little kitschy. It features a single rotating set, providing the audience with constantly changing views of the interior & exterior of Butterfly's house. When I realized that the 6 hooded stagehands were only pretending to turn it, though, I thought them unnecessary. The transition between acts II & III is seamless, but the off-stage humming chorus sounded just a little too far away. I felt the same about Butterfly's off-stage singing entrance in Act I, though this may have been due to hearing it from the left side of the orchestra. As one would expect, the performance was well-attended. During the curtain calls, Ms. Dessì made sure that Rebecca Chen, playing Trouble, came forward to join her at the end. I may have fallen asleep during act III, because there are parts of it I don't remember.

6 comments:

sfmike said...

"I may have fallen asleep during act III, because there are parts of it I don't remember." Watch out, you're turning into Emilia Marty. Bore me and I'll fall asleep on you.

Axel Feldheim said...

Uh-oh, I think I do that already!

sfmike said...

How old are you, really?

Axel Feldheim said...

Um...Well I'm not 337 years old.

The Opera Tattler said...

I am certain you did not fall asleep during Butterfly, because if you did I would have very gleefully tattled on you.

Axel Feldheim said...

OT: That is true. Perhaps fear of being tattled on kept me awake.