Thursday, October 1, 2009

It ain't over til the fat lady sings.....

I realized that hadn't written much about the operas I've been seeing.

Madame Butterfly:

Madame Butterfly is an opera written by Puccini at the height of the Romantic period. It's about an American naval officer who goes to Japan and marries a 15 year old girl. The girl, Butterfly, sacrifices her religion and her family to be with him. He means everything to her. Pinkerton, the officer, takes the marriage very lightly. He leaves Butterfly in Japan while he makes his way back to the US and marries another woman, unbeknownst to Butterfly.

Butterfly waits three years for Pinkerton to return; always watching the harbour for new ships to appear on the horizon. Her family, friends, and servants plead with her to marry another. But her heart is still devoted to Pinkerton. She sings the most beautiful duet with her maid. (watch here please!)

She believes that one fine day, he will come back to her.

Finally she sees his ship! She grows excited and waits and waits for him at her door with their child. But he never comes.

When he finally comes the next day, it's with his American wife. Butterfly can see her waiting in the yard and is completely devastated. Pinkerton and his wife want to adopt Butterfly's son and give him a life in America that he could never have in Japan. Butterfly consents, but only asks for some time alone with her son. She sends him off to play and then slits her throat.

Cheery no?

What I liked about Madame Butterfly:
The music truly touches your heart. I had been wanting to see this opera since I studied it in Humanities 202. When Butterfly sings, you truly feel that Pinkerton will come back for her on a beautiful spring day. You feel that hope as she sings. And then you can feel her utter devastation when she gives her son up to the other woman.

Our German teacher said today that you can only really understand opera if you've been in love. I think this is true. Madame Butterfly is much more poignant if you've had your heart broken. She's like the Bella of 1900.

Die Fledermaus:

An operetta by Strauss, the jr.

I throughly enjoyed it. A satire on the noble class in Vienna. The plot is a little too complicated to explain throughly But basically, it's about a man seeking revenge on his friend for dressing him up like a bat when he was drunk and then living him in the street. It's a commentary on the lengths rich people will go to to entertain themselves. It's like the Office in a way. Exaggerated truths about every day life. It was a little long for my taste. Three acts. But at the same time I loved it and highly recommend it. If you're going to see one opera in your life, Die Fledermaus is definitely a good choice.

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