That’s how one industry insider described today’s open dress rehearsal of Madama Butterfly at the Met. “More people than I’ve ever seen in the theater, some of them with tickets scalped from Ebay!”
A more measured assessment comes from yet another of La Cieca’s network of operatives:
“Well I am happy to say that today’s affair was well worth the wait in line! To begin with, the Met has transformed into a sort of “butterfly cocoon,” with a myriad of exhibits, pictures and a giant ancient chinese banner outside which reads “Cio Cio San”. The new art gallery has some very interesting paintings relating to the new production, although I question the inclusion of a collage of lesbian erotica which represents Madama Butterfly (quite a ballsy thing for such a bastion of tradition!). The documentary and Q&A session after the performance were
substantive and informative. Even Mayor Bloomberg deigned to make a short speech.
“Now, as for the performance–it certainly lived up to the hype! The crowd loved it, although a few people were puzzled bythe use of a puppet for Butterfly’s child. I, however, felt it heightened the drama in that it allowed for a greater expressive range and highlighted the child’s powerlessness. Besides that, the production really stunned everyone. The striking use of lighting as well as the costumes added so much to the performance and made for what is probably the most dramatic interpretation of the final scene. The giant black mirror which reflects the slanted stage gives the whole opera a cinematic feeling: you can see things in the mirror you cannot see on the stage, e.g., something happening behind a screen.
“Unlike so many productions at the MET, the effects are never an end in themselves and are meant to highlight the drama in some way rather that just dazzle the audience. On the whole, the sophistication of choreography, staging, and creativity is way ahead of most productions at the MET. It had the feeling of an excellent small theater production in that it was very specific and pretty much flawless. However, in its own way it was extravagant — without being overblown like those Zeffirelli productions.
“Now, as for the singing….that is somewhat of a mixed bag. Giordani knocked my socks off with his gorgeous and unbroken sound. Vocally, he and Croft were the best aspects of the production. Gallardo-Domas was, well, not great . . . . She has no variety or delicacy, but at least she has a big enough voice to fill the house. As an actress she is suberb. It almost didn’t matter that she couldn’t quite fill the shoes of the role in the way that Scotto or de los Angeles could, because the production was just so damn superb.
“Oh and the best thing is that one does not have to be especially close to enjoy it–the production actually has more impact from a distance. For those who like their productions traditional –do not despair! This Butterfly production, while essentially minimalist, is not some kooky Eurotrash kitsch. It has the best aspects of a modern production, but is essentially traditional.
“I applaud the MET for finally doing something right. The open house was exciting, informative and just a wonderful experience all around. I hope this is a sign of things to come!”