Puccini makes his heroines suffer. I’ve said it many times. Madama Butterfly has got to be the worst. Beautiful music, heart - wrenching story. If anyone who’s ever felt betrayed in love, listens to “Un bel di” without feeling something profound, the soprano isn’t doing her job.
In such a wrenchingly emotional opera, I wondered if and how there might be some humor to lighten the emotional load.
Peter Kazaras, Director of many Seattle Opera productions, is always spot-on with his humor. It was no different with the recent performance of Madama Butterfly, the tragic story of love, betrayal and death.
To add some really funny stuff would be inappropriately unsympathetic. For our tragic heroine Cio-Cio San deserves and commands all our respect and empathy.
Yet Kazaras found a way to add just two bits of humor. Once when Suzuki placed a pillow on the floor for the visiting Sharpless. When he instead choose the table as his seat, she discreetly added the pillow to her own in the back of the room. Just a sly bit more comfort for this loyal and dedicated servant. And in one other small instance we got another small chuckle. And that was it.
It was perfect. Just the right amount of humor. Which wasn’t very much. Any more would have been disrespectful to our heroine and her story. Very tastefully done. Bravo.
Photo: Seattle Opera