Thursday, October 05, 2006

Madama Butterfly - Nutshell Review by a Philistine

I truly respect the effort, but . . .

Last night, we went and saw Madama Butterfly at the Lyric Opera. First, let me start off with a few positives.

1. The place was packed - a LOT of people came out on a Wednesday night in Kansas City to see opera. That's pretty cool and impressive. The dress ranged from $800 suits and elegant dresses to jeans and t-shirts, and the people-watching was way above-average. For some reason, it seemed like a lot of couples were composed of short men and tall women. I don't know what that means, but that's what I saw.

2. Student rush tickets are only $10.

3. The set was great.

4. The performers were, to my untrained eye and ear, nearly flawless. I didn't catch any flat notes, and their voices sounded just like what opera sounds like when I see it portrayed elsewhere. People who looked like they knew their stuff stood at the end and yelled "Bravo!" with astonishingly loud voices.

5. The Lyric Opera Theater is pretty, and there's lots of legroom.

On the other hand . . .

1. This thing is long. It started at 7:30, and went to around 10:30. For someone trying to develop a taste for opera, this is kind of like trying to develop a taste for hotdogs at a hotdog eating contest.

2. The characters are stupid. Not a shred of emotional or other intelligence appears on the stage. It's hard for me to develop a connection with someone so prone to emotional excess and a lack of critical thinking. I know my share of nutcases in real life, but these people are beyond acceptable.

3. The singing just doesn't grab me. I can respect its beauty, and I think I could learn to love snatches of it, but to hear 3 hours of operatic voices soaring on everything from "would you like a cigarette?" to "go away, kid, I'm about to jab this dagger through myself" is kind of wearying. I remember that scene in Philadelphia where Tom Hanks plays opera and it is absolutely spellbinding - for a few minutes. Maybe that much emotional richness needs to come in smaller bites for someone like me.

In summary . . .

I'm glad I went, and I'll go again. It certainly beat sitting on my couch and channel surfing, and Robin enjoyed it, so it was time well spent. But, honestly, it did not engage me on a deep level. Fast Johnny Ricker is more my speed at this point in my life.


Blogger Mark said...

Well you gave it a shot. 3 hours of Puccini is a tough nut for your first time out. I had about the same reaction for my first opera. 3.5 hours I believe it was.

Wait for Marriage of Figaro (Mozart) or I think Barber of Seville is coming. Always give yourself permission to leave at intermission. Eventually you will find yourself coming back.

10/05/2006 3:28 PM  
Blogger Xavier Onassis said...

Leave at intermission?

What? And miss the big chase scene?

10/05/2006 5:59 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

You crack me up XO. There's rarely a chase scene but the soprano usually dies at the end. At least in Puccini.

I never thought I would enjoy opera but the wife played for opera orchestras so many times that I eventually got hooked.

Good gravy maybe I am becoming Frasier Crane.

10/05/2006 6:27 PM  
Blogger Xavier Onassis said...

A soprano dies?!?

WHY DON'T PEOPLE TELL ME THESE THINGS? They should put that information in the synopsis! That's not a spoiler, that's a guaranteed ticket seller.

I'd pay good money to see a soprano die.

Maybe then the constant ringing in my ears would go away.

Know what the difference is between a soprano and the Titanic? We KNOW how many people went down on the Titanic.

THANK YOU! I'll be here all week!

Know what the range of a piccolo is? About 30 yards with the wind at your back.

All right. That's enough.

Am I not merciful?

10/05/2006 6:47 PM  
Anonymous travelingal said...

Glad you liked it, but personally, I don't believe in choking down sushi

10/06/2006 2:11 PM  
Blogger Mark said...


The piccolo joke made me laugh out loud. I can't believe I've never heard that one. I'm going to change that to "viola" and tell it to the wife.

10/06/2006 2:20 PM  
Blogger emawkc said...

A Soprano dies?

Which one, is it Tony? I've always had this theory that Tony would end up dead at the end of the series. I just was trying to figure out whether it would be from Chris or Carmella.

10/06/2006 4:24 PM  
Blogger Xavier Onassis said...


"The piccolo joke made me laugh out loud"?

What, like I'm "funny"?

You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it's ME, I'm a little FUCKED UP maybe, but I'm funny HOW, I mean funny like I'm a CLOWN, I AMUSE you? I make you LAUGH, I'm here to fuckin' AMUSE YOU? What do you mean funny, FUNNY HOW? HOW AM I FUNNY?

Sorry, had a "Goodfellas" moment. I'm back now. Thanks to IMDB.COM, Martin Scorsese and Joe Pesci!

Know what you call a guy who hangs out with musicians? A drummer.

Know what the difference is between a drummer and a drum machine? You only have to punch the beat into a drum machine once.

Did you hear about the richest musician in Kansas City? Yeah, he has TWO girlfriends!

I'll stop now and go piss on someone elses blog.

10/06/2006 8:18 PM  

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