Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Last week the Utah Opera opened its new season with Puccini's "Madame Butterfly," and we were there, five rows back, center right. Sure, it's a tearjerker, and I (along with most of the audience) shed some tears. Barbara Shivis was perfect as Butterfly; as the 15-year old in the first act, she was fragile and vulnerable, funny and trusting, and stubborn (as most 15-year-olds are!). She was magnificent as Butterfly three years later, her trust broken by that cad Pinkerton. Her performance was "stunning" as the review in the paper said--which brings to mind an ongoing argument (discussion?) I have with my husband concerning opera in general. He believes the voice rules. Physical appearance, not so much.
I remember when Martina Arroyo sang the role of Butterfly. She is a hefty Black woman, about 45 at the time. Well, that sort of thing doesn't work for me. The voice may be terrific, but Butterfly should look like an Asian teenager full of innocence and hope, like a butterfly, if you will. I have nothing against Ms. Arroyo, who has a splendid operatic voice and is a lovely lady in her own right.
So, what do you think? Does appearance matter, or does the voice overcome questionable casting??? Should an opera singer also be able to act?
Sitting next to us, as they have for many seasons, was a nice lady lawyer and her elderly father, who recently returned from a visit to New Zealand--Queenstown and Hamilton. They took harbor cruises and visited the LDS Temple and College in Hamilton. They LOVED New Zealand, and it was fun to hear their stories. And it turns out, their guide was an old friend of my husband's! Small world.