Took Sam to see Madama Butterfly Friday night and I had forgotten how angry the Opera makes me. It seems that Puccini lavishes his lyrical might in the service of a story that, at best, is a thin tissue of immoralities strung together by implausibilities: a predatory, pedophile, American naval officer toys with the affections of a mentally unstable codependent girl, leaving her with a chld to go off and marry a "real" wife in America, and returning only to steal away the son he had by here, ultimately to her destruction.
My questions--what use her friends, who in the moments of greatest torment run off one direction or another? Am I supposed to be sympathetic to the moral monster that is Pinkerton--please--knowing that you are basically hiring a long-term prostitute even though she thinks she's getting married, running off and marrying elsewhere, returning and then whining about how upset you are that you upset her?
Every syllable a waste in the service of such nonsense. Even the amazingly beautiful aria Un Bel Di basically a neurotic paean to deliberate and cultivated ignorance.
Well, I can say that the performance I saw had the virtue of versimilitude. Madama Butterfly was played by an up-and-coming young Korean Opera star, the voice, the orchestra, and everything flowed together smoothly into an evening of really beautiful, if terribly wasted music.
I know, I was supposed to cry. But I was too busy wondering where in all this mishmash there was anyone who really cared. Even when there are people who do care, there can be tragedy--but this ultimately manipulative melodrama is better listened to without any sense of the story--or with perhaps the few glimpses you get from time to time through television or the movies. Believe me--if you've seen them, you've seen enough.