26 July 2009

Tallyho, Pinkerton

… was one of the favourite books I used to read to my kids when they were little. But I saw that other Pinkerton last night, and what a cad he was! This Pinkerton was the debaser of Madame Butterfly, of course, in Puccini’s opera. He was a nasty piece of work, and she was the dignified and faithful spouse and mother. This Butterfly was a two-act version. I guess this is the original text from La Scala that was poorly received; Puccini subsequently rewrote the work in three acts and several further versions to much success. This one was performed in English, with a cast of ~9 and a small (~12 piece) orchestra. I was a bit non-plussed by it all, and disappointed, especially given MB’s renown. The music seemed pretty samey, especially through the first act, although I felt it was more dynamic and passionate in the second. I could only catch a few words, despite the presentation in English, and sometimes I felt the phrasing was forced, presumably to fit the lyrics to the music. The sopranos were plenty loud when they hit their higher range, but there were several voices that were lost, even with this small orchestra. I can understand this is not kosher, but some subtle PA work may have helped here. I found it all a bit ho-hum. The cute puppet that was MB’s toddler just about stole the show. It was only the final scene with the hara-kiri that finally affected me, and that ended so, so abruptly, along with the whole performance. No epilogue here. I only recognised one aria, by MB in the second act, although the humming chorus is apparently famous too. You couldn’t miss the Star-Spangled banner references, but … wasn’t he a cad. Thank god for that nice Sharpless who represented the honest side of the yanks. This production is set in Nagasaki in 1946 (think: Fat man, A-bomb). I didn’t see any particular relevance for the A-bomb connection, but we enjoyed the show well enough. As I was leaving, I heard some women chuckling that they had been thinking “Die, bitch” during some lengthy passages in the second act. I didn’t quite feel that, but I don’t expect it will be long remembered by me. Probably not as long as my memories of that cute book, “Tallyho, Pinkerton”.

Madame Butterfly was directed by John Bell and performed by Opera Australia. I’d have some pics, but in these days of obsessive concern with Copyright, they are strictly VERBOTEN.

1 comment:

Eric Pozza said...

Margaret / Oliver (?) Thanks for the nice words and welcome. Eric