The sets, the costumes, the lighting effects and the stage props were all of a community college level. The door on the Shouji kept getting stuck when Suzuki attempted to close it gingerly and at one point tea was served on a bed tray found at Walmart, totally out of period. My expectations were higher.
The supporting cast were equally tremendous vocalists. Dobromir Momekov's Sharpless was a solid anchor in the cast and Viara Zhelezova's Suzuki was more emotionally layered than her mistress, Butterfly. The trio between Pinkerton, Sharpless and Suzuki was one of the evening's finer moments. Perez's "Un Bel Di" aria was also a standout and was the only mid-show moment to receive spontaneous applause. Sadly, both Butterfly's suicide and Pinkerton's discovery of her body were cold, melodramatic and anti-climatic. The opera was performed with a full orchestra (bravo) and without any microphone amplification - which was, for the most part a big plus --- however, more often than not, the male vocalists were drowned out by the orchestra, especially in dramatic moments when both the singers and orchestra were at full throttle. The female vocalists all seemed to rise above the orchestra for most of the show.
Hooray for The McCallum for including Opera in their wonderfully eclectic season. Up next - the legendary Barbara Cook and then the incomparable Linda Eder. For more information or tickets visit www.mccallumtheatre.com.
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