Opera: Madama Butterfly
Madama Butterfly (appropriately subtitled "Japanese tragedy in three acts") is a little too dramatically obvious, and musically unsatisfying. But the performance by Kristine Opolais as Cio-Cio-San is the sort of dramatic and powerful performance that this piece needs and she had the audience cheering for her on Saturday night. It is all high melodrama and her transformation from a meek and feeble fifteen year old girl, to a woman rejected is incredible and really fleshes out this minimalist production.
The audience around me were not so rapt with the performance of James Valenti, as he is less of a big bold cad and more of a tender thoughtless B.F. Pinkerton, who marries Cio-Cio-San and assumes she understands the nature of the relationship. I did not mind this subtle choice, and listening to him on Radio 3 relay of the performance you would be none the wiser. And being a tall, strong-looking American, he certainly looked the part (as this brief story about him shows). The finale keeps him off stage and puts the audience firmly in the shoes of butterfly.
The opera is probably one of the better outdoor operas, particularly going by the tweets from the audience that watched Monday night's performance outdoors as part of the BP Summer Screens.
It has two more performances, not counting the 3D recording that takes place on Friday. The 3D recording is an opportunity to catch the opera at a bargain price (if you don't mind the cameras).
Next up for BP Summer Screens (and for me) is Cendrillon which opens on Tuesday night with Joyce DiDonato. I can't wait. Mild social networking games can be found on twitter at @mynameiscinders