My friend was unused to tragic opera and was rather affected by the plot of "Madame Butterfly". She thought Pinkerton was a complete sleazebag and wondered why Butterfly didn't just dump him and take up Yamadori on his offer of marriage. It was great fun to see her get passionate about the action on stage, since quite a few people tend to consider opera to be the cultural equivalent of spinach -- you know it's good for you, but you aren't terribly enthusiastic about consuming it. Since I have the opposite attitude to the afore-mentioned folks, it was refreshing to see someone who is likely to become as much of a lover of the performing arts as I am. We're already making plans to see more productions at Lincoln Center in the near future, since I'd like to introduce her to ballet as well as more operatic classics. :)
~~ is an enabler ~~
As for the performance itself, Angela Maria Blasi did a creditable job in her City Opera debut in the title role, although I thought Missoon Ghim outshone her as Suzuki. Raul Melo was excellent as Pinkerton, as was Grant Youngblood as Sharpless. Robert Mack played Goro and was unfortunately still as weak vocally as when I saw him in the role of Sportin' Life in NYCO's "Porgy and Bess" back in 2000. It was nice to see the partial reunion of the cast of this fall's production of "La bohème" in minor roles, though. Kyungmook Yum, who'd played Schaunard, returned as Yamadori while the former Colline, Eric Jordan, appeared all-too-briefly as the Bonze, sporting a very impressive costume that reminded me of traditional portrayals of Japanese demons. Yum did an excellent job and I was sad his part here wasn't a larger one, since I'd like to see more of him.
While the design of the production tended toward the minimalist, I did rather enjoy the scene where Butterfly, Suzuki and Sorrow strew petals as they decorate the house with flowers in anticipation of Pinkerton's return. It produced a lovely image of a rain of pink petals coming down around them as they sang and made me think of the sakura blossoms fluttering about in the breeze when I've attended Cherry Blossom Festivals in years past at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens.
One of the things I've noticed at City Opera this season (Fall and Spring) is that they've hired several Korean singers. I'd never thought of that country as a great producer of classical vocalists, but based on my experiences recently, I think I'll be on the lookout for Korean opera singers now, since every single one I've seen perform has done a wonderful job of their role. They seem to be exceptionally well-trained and often out-sing their American costars (which is sometimes not difficult I admit, as Mack showed this evening) so I'll be looking forward to seeing more Koreans showing up as part of the cast here at City Opera and at the Met in the future.