Performed on 15 May 2015 at the Arts Centre Melbourne.
Perhaps it was because it was only my first opera experience, but Madama Butterfly felt to me like one of the most amazing tragic love stories I have ever witnessed.
This is a truly harrowing tale of a young woman, characterised admirably by her unwavering faith in a husband who has since deserted her. She is loyal to the very end, and sharing in her turmoil is positively grueling to say the least.
The opera is not for the impatient, and certainly not for those uncomfortable with subtitles, referred more commonly in the opera universe as the libretto. Everything is in Italian and it takes a particular brand of taste to appreciate the nuanced vocal classifications and dramatic style. But once you embrace the classical beauty of the art, you can begin to appreciate the reasons behind why this art form has withstood the test of time.
There is something so emotionally evoking about the operatic arias in Madama Butterfly, most outstandingly the memorable Un bel dì, known to lesser fans perhaps in a parody by The Simpsons. I found myself so deeply engrossed in Madama Butterfly’s haunting plight, played and sung so euphorically by Hiromi Omura, I often lost all concept of time. This is fitting in the context of Madama Butterfly, whose unrequited love makes three years of solitude seem like a passing moment.
Madama Butterfly was for me the perfect introduction the opera. It is the gateway to an entirely new world of fine art. I want nothing more now than to experience the best that the opera scene has to offer, all over the world. I only wish that I had discovered it sooner.
Feature image courtesy of Opera Australia