by Kevin McLaughlin
The Madame Butterfly performed at Detroit Opera last Sunday, October 15, reminded us of this opera’s stubborn beauty. Puccini’s ravishing score, coupled with radiant singing, sparkling sets, and inspired lighting and costumes, overtook potential criticism of its perspectival flaws.
Don’t get me wrong — there is much bigotry and male and racial chauvinism to call out in David Belasco’s play and Giuseppe Giacosa’s and Luigi Illica’s libretto, as well as a lack of agency of the lead. And Detroit’s Japanese and Japanese American artistic team of Matthew Ozawa (artistic director), Kimie Nishikawa (scenic design), Maiko Matsushima (costumes), and Yuki Nakase Link (lighting) did so, but without changing much.
Their version (a co-production with Cincinnati Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, and Utah Opera) leans into the white male fantasy aspect of the story, rather than mitigate or excuse it. [Read more…]