For those of you that have been following along on my Opera Blogging, I bid a sad farewell to this season of the Vancouver Opera this past Thursday night. And a very sad farewell it was, as the Opera in question, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, was a real tear jerker.
As I’ve mentioned before, I have a great love for sec dec in the film world. Well, after having received a much more intimate view of the Opera and what goes on behind the scenes, I must say the Opera puts film to shame. The amount of planning, creativity and choreography that goes into creating the set at the Vancouver Opera is outstanding. They create wonderful pieces of art and that’s before you add the performers to the stage.
The Vancouver Opera’s Madama Butterfly was no exception. Quite the contrary. It was the most emotionally evocative set of the season (for me, at least). And this actually quite surprised me, as at first glance, it was somewhat reminiscent of a three ring circus. Married with the players and the music, this set transformed into one of the most beautiful pieces I have ever seen on the stage or the screen. By the end of the first Scene, I was on the brink of tears, it was so beautiful. Oh and as a little aside here, I loved that as this is a Japanese Opera, that the Japanese art of shadow puppetry was used to help set the scene, in LIFE SIZE!!!
All the credit cannot go to the set, however, as the musicians and the players created some of the most beautiful auditory experiences that I have ever had in the Opera. And really such a treat, with Mihoko Kinoshita, arguably the premiere Madama Butterfly of her day, and the mouth watering James Valenti as Pinkerton, who has certainly begun to emerge as one of the Opera greats.
The experience was only added to, by the fact that I was invited to a pre-show talk with Assistant Stage Manager, Theresa Tsang. This made it so much more interesting to understand why there were men dressed all in black, what the concentric rings were on the stage, and just how much attention the players had to pay to learning to move in a cultural appropriate manner for this Opera. Have you ever tried to move like a geisha? It’s damn hard. Highly recommend you take in similar talks next season, if you get the opportunity.
Perhaps what I love the most about the Opera though, is that it makes me reflect on my own life, my wants, my hidden desires, and my insecurities. Madama Butterfly was once again no exception to this. It is a tale of … for him: a relationship of convenience …. and for her: an escape from her present reality. For her, she was swept off her feet into a seductive world, that came at the stake of loss to all she had known and her childhood ties, but with the promise for a better future. For him, she was an exotic trifle to entertain him until he could return to his own world.
As I watched, I was reminded that I’m getting older. I want a family and children. I’ve had men that saw me as an exotic flavour parade themselves in front of me, presenting lavish gifts. My mind has wondered, am I being too picky? I am, after all, getting older. But I don’t want to find myself as the current day trifle or in a marriage of convenience. I want the real deal – a man that loves and respects me for me, not an unreal fantasy. And that I feel the same way about. I don’t want to settle with good enough or with anyone that creates a rift or a disconnect between me and my family.
Watching the last act unfold, broke my heart for Madama Butterfly, and reminded me how incredibly fortunate I am to have grown up in the country and with the family that I have. I am any mans equal and am unlikely ever to be presented with the sort of predicament that Madama Butterfly found herself in.
Perhaps one of the greatest victims of the situation, however, was the new Mrs. Pinkerton. What horror to discover your husband already married and his disregard for his first wife as simply a delectable trifle that came with a work apartment abroad. What guilt to take the only thing of love this first wife had left, even if it was for the best for the child. What would I do if I was faced with such a predicament? Could I continue to be with a man that was such a coward or with such little regard for the mother of his child?
Certainly makes one think …
PS This season of the Vancouver Opera is not quite over. There are still performances of Madama Butterfly tonight and on Thursday June 8th.