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Subject: Butterfly in La Plata
From: "David J. Mazer" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:David J. Mazer
Date:Mon, 29 Nov 2004 08:03:07 -0300
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Hi to the List!
A very nice performance as a Centennial homage to Butterfly's first performance took part yesterday in Teatro Argentino, La Plata, Buenos Aires Province.
A minimalist but beautiful stage design with a simple skeleton of the "casetta" designed by Marta Parga with a fantastic lighting by the regisseur Daniel Helfgot and Raul Bongiorno, and simple classic costumes by Monica Toschi, was seen onstage. No bridge, no rear entrance by Cio Cio San, 
The woman's chorus onstage from the beginning as extras  were integrated afterwards to the action, and no there was no  intermission between act 2nd and 3rd. These were the peculiarities of this performance.
Patricia Gutierrez was Butterfly, and deserved the huge ovation she got after the end of the performance. She sang and acted with passion, in spite of the loudness of the orchestra led by Mario Perusso who has no pity with singers and no criteria with this strange theater that has the whole orchestra pit in front of the stage with no musicians under it, plus the acoustic black holes this theater has. From the last time she sang it onstage (some 5 years ago) she solved almost all of her vocal problems especially her lower register than now resounds and is clearly heard. She carried her little child and sang with him on her arms, she ran all the way through the garden, she graciously danced during the flower duet... she now owns the role.
Suzuki was excellent Gabriela Cipriani Zec. She's a light mezzo but cleverly managed her instrument with a very well placed voice. Juan Carlos Vasallo was Pinkerton. This tenor has a bright upper register, with a easy pasaggio and high notes but his center is weak, or at least not very well sustained, so he shone especially when he delivered his high Bbs and As.
Goro was Ariel Pecchinotti with a very good acting and singing in spite of the lack of rehearsals he got compared to his colleague who was on the "first" cast. So for his debut in this role, even if he was some beats behind the orchestra, he was very good. Sharpless was Alberto Jauregui Lorda. I should say that this singer evolved more than positively on his career and now he is a full actor/singer. The letter reading was really moving as well as his attitude to Pinkerton.
Daniel Helfgot was the metteur en scene. This Argentinean artist  fortunately recovered for our theaters, worked for many years abroad, especially in Opera San JosÚ in California. 
Although most of the artist's direction was traditional, Pinkerton's was the most peculiar and non traditional. He painted this character as the most despective and disgusting boy on stage.
He appeared relaxing on a Japanese tatami, escorted and very well treated by two geishas, most of the time on a t-shirt, and as a whisky addict. The only and logical interest the guy had, was to get rid of Butterfly's family and servants and take her to bed, so he started to get undressed at the beginning of the first act duo, and ended it almost in bed. 
Most of the paper reviews considered this as exaggerated but it seemed very logical attitude to me. 
The rest of the marking was almost traditional, except of Butterfly's entrance that was done through one of the stage isles  due to acoustics problems. The stage was opened and some wonderful light projections were seen on the cyclorama, as well as the revolving "casetta" that turned during the bocca chiusa choir. 
As I said, the whole theater (really packed!) gave a standing ovation to Puccini's masterpiece.
Next to come, and as a season ender, Manon Lescaut (is it Puccini season?) at Colon with InÚs Salazar debut in the role and at the house.
Regards, David. 

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