performed by the Dayton Opera
I’ve always wanted to connect with opera on an intense emotional level. I figure this stems from watching that scene in Philadelphia where Tom Hanks provides a description of an operatic piece (La Mama Morte ) while it plays in the background.
I keep going to operas hoping for those goose bumps, but it never shakes down that way.
Seeing the dress rehearsal for Madame Butterfly in Dayton last week was no different.
I’m never sure if it’s because I’m unfamiliar with the music, that with repeat experiences I will understand the structure and nuance, or if it is something else.
Some works of art are timeless, but I don’t particularly like the story of Madame Butterfly. After being performed over 100 years, it seems especially long in the tooth and ready for retirement (though it is the most popular opera performed today).
It doesn’t help that it is set in Japan, sung in Italian, and presented with English subtitles. I know this is how opera goes, but it just seems extra complicated.
Don’t get me wrong, there were some really excellent bits to the experience.
The Schuster Center in Dayton is a great venue—sound carries unusually well, and seats are comfortable.
The stage set was spartan and graphic (designed by Japanese artist, Jun Kaneko) with abstract videos on screens that would drop down from time to time. The whole thing reminded me of a food court from the 80’s. Sounds repulsive, I know, but it kept me engaged. Perhaps to a fault.
Maybe next time I just need to close my eyes, stop reading, stop looking, and just listen.