24. July 2007 · 3 comments · Categories: Ramble

The company’s heart-rending performance of Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly” proved that opera can be at once high-brow and accessible, technically rigorous and intelligible. No longer would audiences leave the theater marveling at the beauty of the production while puzzling over its plot.

Sporting the daunting mission to keep opera accessible to all, Pocket Opera features no sets, minimal costumes and — most shocking of all to the veteran opera-goer — an English version of the original libretto. The three acts were each preceded by a summary — all in English — of the events that would soon unfold.

Hmmm … I’m not sure I’d appreciate being given a summary prior to each act. To me, opera is so much about the music and even when I don’t understand it all I’m moved.

And why would no sets and minimal costumes make this opera more accessible to all?

Maybe I’m just clueless. (RTWT)


  1. Holy shit, who wrote that?? You are so not clueless.

    Butterfly’s plot, even in Italian, is pretty darned easy to follow. Someone who finds an English version of an Italian opera “shocking” can’t be called a “veteran,” in my opinion. Or, maybe the kind of veteran who isn’t aware of what goes on elsewhere. The US is historically nearly alone in finding it more desirable to hear the original language of an opera than to be able to understand it.

    “Butterfly” is one opera where I tell people “do not read the synopsis” if they’ve never seen it before, because of one of the plot twists. Same as Harry P.: no spoilage allowed. 🙂

    Pocket Opera uses minimal sets and costumes because it has a bare-bones budget.

  2. Yes, I did think the minimal sets, etc., were due to budget restraints. How funny for a writer to imply they are somewhat deliberate.

    I would be livid if someone gave away the plot prior to each act. It would be interesting to hear from audience members and see if they are as delighted with this as the writer seems to think.

  3. Yep, I agree with Lisa.

    Once again, this makes me want to puke. If someone can’t follow Butterfly without the words, the evidently haven’t read Dick and Jane. Isn’t the Libretto pretty much like:

    Cio Cio San: Wait! Love you!
    Pinkerton: *cough* Um… yeah, I love you too! *under his breathe* sort of…but I’m a reall bad guy and you won’t find out until it’s too late!
    Cio Cio San: I’ll see you soon my love!
    Pinkerton: Um… sure… MUAHAHAHAHAHA!!!