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Subject: The Trouble with Butterfly (was Butterfly Broadcast from the Met on WQXR)
From: "G. Paul Padillo" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:G. Paul Padillo
Date:Thu, 8 Mar 2018 20:09:25 -0500

text/plain (59 lines)

I could not agree more with Bob, and others who love "the puppet."  Butterfly is a favorite 
opera of mine and in more productions than not the living, breathing child does little more 
than stand and stare, most age appropriate portrayals Dolore haven't the acting skills.  
Outside of Minghella's solution, the most effective child I've seen was Tyler Christopher 
Backer in Mark Lamo's extraordinary production for New York City Opera.  One had to get 
used to the idea that this was a six year old boy, playing the role, but Master Backer's 
performance was convincing and engaging.  Lamos made "Trouble" a far more integral part 
of the staging than is usual, his movements choreographed perfectly with the music - and 
he even helped attack Goro!  

I believe every soprano who has appeared in Minghella's production has taken the time to 
say how much more moving the experience is with the puppet, the interactions more 
"realistic" than a child could possibly provide.  In the HD cinecast there was a pre-curtain 
moment glimpsed when Racette (Butterfly) before the 2nd half of the vigil, is alone with the 
puppet and it was infinitely touching.  

No one is going to change the mind of anyone who "hates it," but I've known some who 
were ambivalent about the puppet who have come to love it.  Clearly I didn't need to be 
convinced as (also like Bob) I love various forms of Japanese theatre and loved seeing the 
integration of part of its tradition(s) incorporated by Mr. Minghella.

Here is a clip of the Cherry Blossom scene from Lamos' City Opera Butterfly which featured 
Shu-Ying Lee as Butterfly, James Valenti as Pinkerton, Michael Chioldi as Sharpless, and 
Jennifer Tiller as Suzuki, conducted by George Manahan.


* * * * * 

[log in to unmask] wrote:

"Different strokes for different folks.  I've never seen one of those
Chucky movies.  But in high school we had to study Chinese opera, Japanese
No plays, and most importantly, Bunraku. Thus, by the time my classmates
and I were 16 (this would be 1971), we were exposed to theater traditions.

When I saw the Met's Butterfly, it made perfect sense.  In fact, I came
away slightly pensive because I felt the puppeteers made the child much
more engaging and sympathetic than any child actor could ever accomplish.

If you're still disgusted by the puppet - and assuming that you want to
change your attitude rather than continue to enjoy being disgusted by the
puppet - perhaps the solution is to search "Bunraku" on YouTube (I get
30,000 hits) and learn something about this significant theater tradition."

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