The Lyric Opera of Chicago opened a new production of MADAMA BUTTERFLY, replacing the beloved Hal Prince production which served the company well for almost 30 years. The new production is from the Houston Grand Opera and is created by Michael Grandage and Christopher Oram. Like their recent Met DON GIOVANNI, this production is a drab and colorless affair: the best that can be said for it is that it is boring and clumsy - often times it is just misguided!
Vocal honors go to Christopher Purves as Sharpless, at time reminding me timbre-wise of Ingvar Wixell.
Amanda Echalaz was Cio-Cio-San. She sang strongly all evening, with power to spare at the end, but really didn't do much at all with the words, when she bothered to sing them above the staff. Dramatically, she never seemed to embody the role and really didn't grab my attention until the last 10 minutes - she never seemed to be the Japanese child-bride at all.
James Valenti was a non-entity as Pinkerton, both dramatically and vocally - when he could be heard (NOT the orchestra's fault!) I swear, if he weren't tall, dark and handsome, he'd probably be singing Goro somewhere in the hinterlands - IF his acting was good enough to do character parts. A BIG disappointment!
The star of the evening was the orchestra under the direction of Marco Armiliato - they sounded splendid. Talking to a friend in the orchestra, they loved working with him and I look forward to a long relationship with this company.
When this new production was announced, I was secretly pleased to have something replace the Hal Prince one, which I had seen 5-6 times. AH..... be careful what you wish for! :(