..Victoria Barkley..

Madama Butterfly at the Met

A generous friend called the night before to invite me to the final dress rehearsal of Puccini's "Madama Butterfly" at the Met. "I know this is last minute," she said, "but I have two tickets and your name just popped into my head as the one to call. Are you interested?" "Are you kidding?!" I screamed into the phone. "I stood in line for hours last year to get a free ticket and by the time I reached the box office it was no longer available."

I was so excited to see film and theater director Anthony Minghella's production of this opera in person, I could barely get to sleep. When I finally did drop off into la-la land, I dreamt of sitting in the Orchestra, somewhere center, in Row E, just five rows behind the musicians, thrilling to sights and sound. And I must say that the actual performance was a dream come true. Well, not quite — we sat in Row H, a bit to the right — however, that was close enough.

The first concern was meeting my friend on time. Neither one of us thought of the hundreds of ticketed, casually clothed, students and opera enthusiasts milling about at the entrance. Arriving unusually early, I looked for her signature handbag in the crowd. I didn't have far to go. She spotted me first and let out a joyful shout. We quickly embraced and raced to our seats like giggling school girls, in for a special treat.

Minghella's Madama did not disappoint. Although we were warned at the door that some singers might not sing in full voice, that turned out to be untrue. Cio-Cio-San (Patricia Racette), Lt. B. F. Pinkerton (Roberto Aronica), Suzuki (Maria Zifchak), and the rest of the opera company were singing in top form. There was not a single musical mistake and conductor, Patrick Summers, did not once have to halt the seamlessly perfect rehearsal.

The stage floor, tilted upward and ending in a panel of ever changing bright colors, was doubled by its reflection in a strategically tilted overhead mirror, creating a hypnotic, other-worldly effect. Hand held lanterns floating around stage, gorgeous costumes and creative puppetry did much to enhance the visually stunning performance played to a full house.

I especially enjoyed the "Met Titles" feature — a small, unobtrusive translation monitor mounted in the back of each chair — offering subtitles in English and other languages. The ability to follow the story line did much to enhance the overall experience.

The opera ended in a well-deserved standing ovation. Audience participants had big smiles on their faces, leaving the grand auditorium. One lady said that, although it was the performance of a lifetime, she would not be able to justify the price of a ticket on opening night. Gratefully, I had to agree.

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Other stories by Victoria Barkley:
Sex Drive -- movie review
What Just Happened -- movie review
American Teen -- movie review
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian -- movie review
A Message From Mom
A Tale of Two Bunnies
Animal Nature
Into the Wild - movie review
Darshan in the Dark Light of the Moon
Love Never Dies
Green Roofs, Weeds and Wildflowers
Greeting Sunrise
Arctic Tale - movie review
Seasons of Gandhi