Review: Madama Butterfly (Lyric Opera of Chicago)

| October 20, 2013
Amanda Echalaz and MaryAnn McCormick star in Lyric Opera's "Madama Butterfly" by Giacomo Pccini, conducted by Marco Armiliato. (photo credit: Dan Rest)        
       
Madama Butterfly 

Music by Giacomo Puccini
Libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica 
Conducted by Marco Armiliato  
Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker (map)
thru Jan 26  |  tickets: $64-$264   |  more info 
        
Half-price tickets are available
     
         
                   Read review
     


  
  

An exquisite, haunting Puccini love story

     

Amanda Echalaz, James Valenti and MaryAnn McCormick star in Lyric Opera's haunting "Madama Butterfly" by Giacomo Pccini, conducted by Marco Armiliato. (photo credit: Dan Rest)

    
Lyric Opera of Chicago presents
    
Madama Butterfly

Review by Katy Walsh 

Based on the short story by John Luther Long and the play by David Belasco, Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly is an opera warhouse.  Since its world premiere in 1905, it has become a favorite of opera goers for its searing emotion.  This current production actualizes the bittersweet passion led by the fierce Amanda Echalaz (Cio-Cio-San).  Amanda Echalaz, James Valenti and MaryAnn McCormick star in Lyric Opera's haunting "Madama Butterfly" by Giacomo Pccini, conducted by Marco Armiliato. (photo credit: Dan Rest)Playing a naïve 15 year, Echalaz enchants in her opening duet with the dashing James Valenti (Pinkerton).  Later, she dominates the theatre with the renowned “Un bel di vedremo.”  Her unwavering devotion to her husband is sung with anguish perfection.  Echalaz crushes it! She fully connects the audience to the depths of her love and despair.        

Echalaz also effectively convinces the stalwart MaryAnn McCormick (Suzuki) to embrace her delirium. They scatter petals and sing the joyful duet “Scuoti quella fronda de ciliegio.”  Their hopeful singing is the prelude to one of two stunning dramatic visuals: Designer Christopher Oram’s revolving stage. Echalaz, McCormick and the adorable Tye Oren Pauley (Sorrow) sit vigil for Valenti’s return.  As Conductor Marco Armiliato leads the spirited interlude, a statuesque Echalaz slowly circles into the dawn.  The scene captivates.  Despite Echalaz’s appearance of conviction, the music showcases her shift into reality.  Armiliato’s orchestra poignantly reveals the truth.

When a Valenti and the dignified Christopher Purves (Sharpless) finally arrive, a miserable McCormick collapses under her burden.  The trio harmonize their individual anguish in “Io so che alle sue pene.”  This leads us to a masterful end scene that is scorched into my memory banks…forever.  Trying not to spoil the experience,  I’ll just say the most vivid part of the imagery is Pauley playing with a boat.  

I’ve seen Madama Butterfly three times.  I’m always blown away by Puccini’s haunting composition that is the epitome of every break up song ever written.  He has captured the misery of loving deeply and tragically.  For diehard and wannabe opera lovers, this Madama Butterfly is especially exquisite.    

  
Rating: ★★★★
  
   

Madama Butterfly continues through January 26th at Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker (map).  Tickets are $64-$264, and are available by phone (312-322-2244) or online through their website (Half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at LyricOpera.org(Running time: 2 hours 45 minutes, includes an intermission)

Amanda Echalaz stars in Lyric Opera's haunting "Madama Butterfly" by Giacomo Pccini, conducted by Marco Armiliato. (photo credit: Dan Rest) Amanda Echalaz, James Valenti and MaryAnn McCormick star in Lyric Opera's haunting "Madama Butterfly" by Giacomo Pccini, conducted by Marco Armiliato. (photo credit: Dan Rest)
Amanda Echalaz and MaryAnn McCormick star in Lyric Opera's haunting "Madama Butterfly" by Giacomo Pccini, conducted by Marco Armiliato. (photo credit: Dan Rest) James Valenti stars in Lyric Opera's haunting "Madama Butterfly" by Giacomo Pccini, conducted by Marco Armiliato. (photo credit: Dan Rest)
Amanda Echalaz stars in Lyric Opera's haunting "Madama Butterfly" by Giacomo Pccini, conducted by Marco Armiliato. (photo credit: Dan Rest) James Valenti stars in Lyric Opera's haunting "Madama Butterfly" by Giacomo Pccini, conducted by Marco Armiliato. (photo credit: Dan Rest)
Amanda Echalaz and MaryAnn McCormick star in Lyric Opera's haunting "Madama Butterfly" by Giacomo Pccini, conducted by Marco Armiliato. (photo credit: Dan Rest) Amanda Echalaz, James Valenti and MaryAnn McCormick star in Lyric Opera's haunting "Madama Butterfly" by Giacomo Pccini, conducted by Marco Armiliato. (photo credit: Dan Rest) Amanda Echalaz and James Valenti star in Lyric Opera's haunting "Madama Butterfly" by Giacomo Pccini, conducted by Marco Armiliato. (photo credit: Dan Rest)

Photos by Dan Rest


     

artists

cast

Amanda Echalaz (Cio-Cio-San, Oct 15-30), Patricia Racette (Cio-Cio-San, Jan 11-26), James Valenti (Pinkerton, Oct 15-30), Stefano Secco (Pinkerton, Jan 11–26), MaryAnn McCormick (Suzuki), Christopher Purves (Sharpless), David Cangelosi (Goro), David Govertsen (Bonze), Laura Wilde (Kate Pinkerton), Anthony Clark Evans (Yamadori), Richard Ollarsaba (Commissioner), Will Liverman (Registrar)

behind the scenes

Marco Armiliato (conductor), Michael Grandage (original director), Louisa Muller (revival director), Christopher Oram (designer), Neil Austin (original light design), Michael Black (chorus master), Nicole Tongue (choreography), Dan Rest (photos)

Amanda Echalaz, James Valenti and MaryAnn McCormick star in Lyric Opera's haunting "Madama Butterfly" by Giacomo Pccini, conducted by Marco Armiliato. (photo credit: Dan Rest)

Amanda Echalaz and James Valenti star in Lyric Opera's haunting "Madama Butterfly" by Giacomo Pccini, conducted by Marco Armiliato. (photo credit: Dan Rest)

13-1033

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: 2013 Reviews, Civic Opera House, Giacomo Puccini, Katy Walsh, Lyric Opera, Opera

Comments (3)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

There are no comments yet. Why not be the first to speak your mind.

Comments are closed.