[Met Performance] CID:351555
New Production
Madama Butterfly {799} Metropolitan Opera House: 09/25/2006., Sirius Broadcast live

(Opening Night {122}
Peter Gelb, General Manager
Debuts: Anthony Minghella, Carolyn Choa, Han Feng, Peter Mumford, Blind Summit Theatre, Keith Miller, Mark Down, Nick Barnes, Finn Caldwell, Hsin Ping Chang, Tom Yang
Broadcast/Times Squarecast/Plazacast
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
September 25, 2006 Broadcast/Times Squarecast/Plazacast
Opening Night {122}

Peter Gelb, General Manager


New Production

MADAMA BUTTERFLY {799}
Giacomo Puccini--Luigi Illica/Giuseppe Giacosa

Cio-Cio-San.............Cristina Gallardo-DomÔs
Pinkerton...............Marcello Giordani
Suzuki..................Maria Zifchak
Sharpless...............Dwayne Croft
Goro....................Greg Fedderly
Bonze...................James Courtney
Yamadori................David Won
Kate Pinkerton..........Edyta Kulczak
Commissioner............Keith Miller [Debut]
Yakuside................David Frye
Mother..................Linda Mays
Aunt....................Carolyn Sielski
Cousin..................Lynn Taylor
Registrar...............Craig Montgomery
Dancer..................Hsin Ping Chang [Debut]
Dancer..................Tom Yang [Debut]
Cio-Cio-San's Child
(Puppet)................Mark Down [Debut], Nick Barnes [Debut], Finn Caldwell [Debut]

Conductor...............James Levine

Production..............Anthony Minghella [Debut]
Associate Director/
Choreographer...........Carolyn Choa [Debut]
Set Designer............Michael Levine
Costume Designer........Han Feng [Debut]
Lighting Designer.......Peter Mumford [Debut]
Puppetry................Blind Summit Theatre, Mark Down and Nick Barnes [Debut]
TV Director.............William Cosel

Production a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Sid R. Bass

The performance was the first live broadcast on Sirius Metropolitan Opera Radio.

The performance was projected onto a screen on the facade of the Opera House and the sound relayed to an audience in Lincoln Center Plaza. The performance was also transmitted live to three screens in Times Square.

Madama Butterfly is a co-production with English National Opera and the Lithuanian National Opera

Madama Butterfly received thirteen performances this season

Production photos of Madama Butterfly by Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera


Review of F. Paul Driscoll in the December 2006 issue of OPERA NEWS

Anthony Minghella's glittering, imaginative - and highly musical - staging of "Madama Butterfly" opened the Met's new season in high style.


The Metropolitan Opera commenced a new era in its history on September 25, with the much-anticipated local debut of Anthony Minghella's staging of "Madama Butterfly," the production chosen by Peter Gelb to inaugurate his tenure as the Met's general manager. Gelb's intentions to revitalize the marketing and artistic profile of his company - and to increase its audience - are well-documented; the Minghella "Butterfly," a beloved repertory staple reimagined by one of the world's superstar film directors, proved a shrewd choice with which to introduce the media and audience-building initiatives that will characterize the Gelb years at the Met. After a company open house and open dress rehearsal for Butterfly - which attracted thousands of visitors to the Met's Lincoln Center home - the opening night of the season was simulcast on three screens in Times Square, as well as on a screen on the fašade of the Met; it also was the first live broadcast on Metropolitan Opera Radio, a new twenty-four-hour opera radio channel on Sirius (see p. 38). The opening-night's audience gathered in the theater itself was the most star-studded in recent memory (see p. 8), and the coverage garnered in the local and national press was easily the most wide-ranging - and positive - attention that the Met has received in years.

Marketing and media opportunities aside, Gelb's decision to coproduce and import the Minghella "Butterfly" - which was first seen at London's English National Opera in November 2005 - was savvy for purely artistic reasons, "Madama Butterfly" celebrates its centennial in the Met repertory this season, and its history at the house is distinguished: Puccini himself supervised the 1907 Met premiere, and most of the succeeding century's great Cio-Cio-Sans have appeared with the company in its various subsequent stagings. At the time Gelb was hired, the Met desperately needed a new "Butterfly" to replace its generally unloved 1994 production by Giancarlo del Monaco - the type of unimaginative, faintly vulgar affair that redefines "traditional" as a dirty word. The Minghella "Butterfly" is not a traditional one in terms of decor or movement, although it is essentially (and correctly) conservative in its approach to the drama and pellucid in its attention to narrative detail. The mise-en-scŔne is recognizably that of Japan in the late-nineteenth or early-twentieth century, but all teahouse-and-cherry-blossoms conventions have been banished to create a clean-lined, luxuriously spare "Butterfly" that borrows liberally from the traditions of Asian theater. Minghella is not the first director to try this, but no other director has accomplished his unaffected fusion of East and West with such sumptuous flair - abetted here by the sleek settings of Michael Levine and the elegant costumes by Han Feng or his highly individual musicality. Every moment of the staging, whether for principals or chorus, was supported by the music, an integrity of movement that extended even to the melancholy bunraku puppet, designed by Blind Summit Theatre, that represented Cio-Cio-San's son. Other key ingredients in this eye-catching "Butterfly" were Peter Mumford's crystalline lighting and the radiant, unforced purity of Carolyn Choa's choreography.

Cristina Gallardo-DomÔs, appearing as Cio-Cio-San for the first time in New York, offered a sympathetic, committed performance, her fluid grace entirely in sympathy with the bolder strokes of Minghella's staging and her intelligent, unmannered acting deployed to vivid effect in more intimate moments. Cio-Cio-San's entrance has seldom been more convincing dramatically; the shyness and the eagerness of the young bride were captured with impressive economy of gesture. Few - if any - Butrerflys have been more touching when listening to Sharpless's reading of the letter in Act II; Gallardo-DomÔs's poise and modesty here were admirably judged, her delicately scaled expressions of bewilderment truthful and spontaneous. From a purely vocal standpoint, the Chilean soprano was less consistently successful.

Although her phrasing was expert - the pointed wordplay in the display of Cio-Cio-San's treasures was especially telling - Gallardo-DomÔs's lyric soprano lacked the evenness of tone and power to realize fully the exultant optimism of the Act 1 love
duet and the persuasive urgency of "Un bel di." That said, the success of the entire evening - and judged by the fervor with which it was received, it must be accounted a success - depended in large measure on the striking sincerity and integrity of its
leading lady. Her scrupulously observed characterization fitted neatly within Minghella's vision of "Madama Butterfly" as a near monodrama, with every action and subordinate character directly related to the arc of the young geisha's personal tragedy.

The Met filled out its opening-night cast with a sterling set of principals. Maria Zifchak, who has in recent seasons established herself as one of the most versatile and valuable mezzos on the company's roster, was a superb Suzuki, buoyant in the flower duet and disarmingly natural in her meeting with Kate Pinkerton. Veteran house Sharpless Dwayne Croft brought star-quality, dignity and authority to his scenes with Pinkerton and Cio-Cio-San. Marcello Giordani, singing his first local B. F. Pinkerton, betrayed a touch of first-night nerves in some shallow-sounding phrases in Act I but offered a ringing, authoritative "Addio, fiorito asil" in the final act. James Levine, returning to the Met podium after a long injury-induced absence for his first Butterfly at the house, led a brilliantly scaled, majestically weighty reading that provided a fitting counterpoint to the glittering action onstage.



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