Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Madama Butterfly (opera)

Giacomo Puccini: Madama Butterfly. Tragedia giapponese in due atti. IT 1904. Libretto Giuseppe Giacosa e Luigi Illica (da John L. Long e David Belasco).

Seen in the Olavinlinna Castle, at the Savonlinna Opera Festival, 20 July 2009. Sung in Italian, with e-surtitles in Finnish and English.

Conductor: Stefan Soltesz
Stage Director: Henry Akina
Stage Design: Dean Shibuya
Costumes: Anne Namba
Lighting Designer: Ilkka Paloniemi
Make-up: Pekka Helynen
Chorus Master: Matti Hyökki

Cio-Cio-San, Madama Butterfly: Hiromi Omura
Suzuki: Edyta Kulczak
Kate Pinkerton: Tiina-Maija Koskela
F.B. Pinkerton: Marian Talaba
Sharpless: Heikki Kilpeläinen
Goro: Dan Karlström
Yamadori: Andrey Bondarenko
Bonzo: Mikhail Kolelishvili

An excellent interpretation of Puccini's tragic opera. Seen in the Olavinlinna castle, built in the 15th century. The castle can be great for epic subjects, but it works also with Madama Butterfly, an intimate chamber piece, where everything takes place in the same setting.

Film-relevant aspects: the drama was formed by David Belasco, many of whose works were important in the formation of the feature film in America (Famous Players in Famous Plays, Paramount, the young Cecil B. DeMille).

There are many film adaptations of Madama Butterfly, but only the Japanese silhouette animation version Ocho fujin no genso (The Fantasy of Madame Butterfly, Kazugoro Arai, Nakaya Tobiishi, JP 1940), 12 min, can be called a masterpiece. Some of the other most memorable examples include:

Harakiri (Fritz Lang, DE 1919) with Mia May
The Toll of the Sea (D: Chester Franklin, SC: Frances Marion, US 1922) with Anna May Wong, in two colour Technicolor

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