The Metropolitan Opera High Definition broadcast of Giacomo Puccini’s opera, “Madama Butterfly” will be held at the Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge on Saturday, April 2, beginning at 11 a.m. The Metropolitan Opera series is brought to Summit County by the National Repertory Orchestra and the Colorado Mountain College. This classic opera, familiar to many opera goers, portrays in music the melodramatic story of a Japanese child bride to an American Naval officer. Happy overtones are experienced through two acts, only to end in heartbreaking tragedy at the end of Act III for a heroine who had experienced “misguided love.”
The story of the opera is set in Nagasaki, Japan, in the early years of the 20th century. Following a lyric opening overture, Act 1 opens with U.S. Navy Lieutenant, Pinkerton, sung by tenor Roberto Alagna, accompanied by Goro, a marriage broker, entering a Japanese home that Pinkerton will inherit after his arranged marriage with bride to be, Cio-Cio-San (Madama Butterfly), sung by Krystine Opolasis. Soon entering the scene are Suzuki, the bride’s chambermaid, sung by Maria Zifchak, and the local U.S. Counsel, Sharpless, sung by Dwayne Croft. Pinkerton makes it known that he has signed a 999-year marriage contract, that can be cancelled any time that he likes.
Entering next is the approaching bridal party, led in by Madama Butterfly. The ensuing choral ensemble is one of the musical highlights of the opera. Those involved in the bridal party are dressed in hauntingly colorful Oriental bunraku puppetry costumes, amid background splendid lighting, and choreographic effects of scrims and overhead mirrors. We are to learn from Butterfly that she had been a poor Giesha girl, and was now looking forward to a loving and permanent marriage. After signing their marriage contract, Pinkerton and Butterfly, now in her bridal nightgown, embrace in a melodic duet before entering the bridal chamber.
Act II is set three years later. Pinkerton, his Navy obligation having been met, returned to America leaving Butterfly behind. Butterfly has been waiting patiently for her husband’s return, enacting in several musical interludes with Sezuki. Butterfly had borne a son, named Dolore (“Trouble”), considered by some locals to be an illegitimate child. At the sound of a canon in the distance, Butterfly is filled with joy at Pinkerton’s return. With help from Suziki, Butterfly gathers flowers that are strewn around the room in celebration for his return. The act ends with the three of them, including her son, peering through a window awaiting Pinkerton’s return.
Act III opens as Butterfly has returned for sleep in her bed after a long night of waiting. When Pinkerton does arrive, he implores Sezuki not to awaken Butterfly. Also seen is Pinkerton’s “American Wife,” who has come to be entrusted with “his” child. Pinkerton leaves the scene. Butterfly, upon awakening, soon realizes upon being introduced that the new lady is Pinkerton’s wife. Upon his wife’s request, Butterfly agrees to relinquish the child and returns to her room. With the same dagger that her father had used to commit “hara-kari” on orders of the emperor, had professed dying with honor when “one cannot live with honor.” Butterfly, no longer able to live with honor, inflicts herself with a fatal wound. Dragging herself out for one last embrace with her son, the curtain comes down with her dying, with the voice of a distraught Pinkerton heard in the background.
This staging of “Madama Butterfly,” as first created by Anthony Manghella at the English National Opera, was first staged at the Met in 2006 as an outstanding contribution by Peter Gelb, then the newly-appointed executive director. Snacks and beverages will be served at the intermission.
The Met Opera is a partnership between Colorado Mountain College and the National Repertory Orchestra. Elmer Koneman is a volunteer and opera enthusiast; Cecile Forsberg is the artistic and operations director with the NRO.