Photos Courtesy: SF Opera

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - As a Cultural website, Cultural World Bilingual will start this review of  the San Francisco Opera's  LIVESTREAM, of Madame Butterfly, on Saturday, June 9, at 7:30PM, by highly praising the performance and thanking those at the San Francisco Opera who made the decision to STREAM  their new productions, at a price, and on stipulated dates and hours, to allow  opera's lovers who for either  health reasons, inability to drive, or no longer living in the Bay Area, the  opportunity to share  their magnificent new productions in the privacy of their own homes.

If, this, our first LIVESTREAM experience with San Francisco's Opera's broadcasting of MADAME BUTTERFLY, on the Night of June 9th, was an example of the quality of the video, the voices, and the overall music sound of the performances that we home viewers will experience from their future LIVESTREAMS, we can assure the SF Opera, that their LIVESTREAM's audience, will increase every month..

Madame Butterfly has always been different from any other operas. The reason is that most operas are based in a great love of a man and a woman, and sadly, Butterfly's plot is based on the great love of a woman for the man, who must have been so low in his moral values, to even fake a wedding ceremony to deceive a fifteen year Geisa girl, to believe he was marrying her, and even duped all her friends and relatives into believing that their wedding was legal. Pinkerton's action, if not criminal, (because of the age of the girl) belongs to what may be defined, in literature terms, as the crass part of drama.

Here we should add, that in his direction of this particular "version" of Madame Butterfly" Japanese Stage Director Amon Miyamoto, added a part of his own creation to this work, because instead of starting the opera with the singing dialogue of Pinkerton, and the "Wedding Broker" discussing the Japanese bungalow, Pinkerton bought as a home, the opera begins at curtain, in complete silence with the audience looking at a room, on the stage, where the only furniture is a brass bed. Lying on a bed is a man, wearing a nightgown and obviously sick, because there is nurse and a doctor, dressed in white, nearby, and another woman, standing nearby silently observing the action.  A boy around 16 years old is brought into the room, and the sick man handles him a folded piece of paper. The boy reads the paper. Later on, the audience learns to understand this this "Addition" means that years later, before Pinkerton died, he recognized this young boy as his son and with that piece of paper, allowed him to become a Japanese-American. When the orchestra's notes interrupts the action, the scene changes and the audience is now looking at the room representing the American Embassy with Pinkerton and the "wedding Broker" discussing the bungalow he just bought.

The scene changes to the wedding ceremony with all her friends, and family arriving to Butterfly's house for the FAKE ceremony. The Wedding Ceremony takes place even witnessed by Sharpless, (Lucas Meachem) the American Counsel.


But shortly after, when addressing who now she believes to be her now husband,  Karah Son, who is making his company debut as Cio-Cio-San, informs him, and her guests, that now that she is married to an American she is renouncing  her Japanese  religion, the Japanese priest gets so upset that threatens to strike her, and shouting, orders all the guests to leave the house. After they do, Pinkerton (Faviano) spends the rest of the night consoling his bride.


The story continues three years later. Pinkerton has returned to the United States and practically abandoned Butterfly which is being helped by Sharpless, the American Consul to be able to paid rent. Yet, day after day, she continues waiting for him to return one day, looking, from the top of a hill for the Abraham Lincoln ship. And one day, she sees it returning to port. After adorning her home with flowers, she sits on a hill with Susuki, (Hyone Kim) her maid and her three-year old boy and waits all night for him. But unable to face her, what Pinkerton does is send Sharpless (Lucas Meahem) carrying a letter telling her that Pinkerton is now married, and has returned with his American wife.


And he add, in his letter, that he and his wife would like to take their son away with them to the United States. when they return.

For the first time in her whole life, realizing her predicament for the future, and feeling her Japanese Honor crushed, she allows her maid Susuki (Hyone Kim) to show Pinkerton the boy. And she ends her life.

The new SF Opera production, of Madame Butterfly is unique. not to only visually, because it features the Costumes by the Late Fashion Designer Kenso Takada, but in sound, because under the baton of  San Francisco Music Director Eun Sun Kin. the instrumental music seem to blend in a majestic sound, enhanced by the Marvelous voices of Karah Son, in her company debut Cio-Cio -San, who not only physically conveys a realistic-looking Butterfly she may have looked , but is capable to convey to the audience, realistically, the pathos of her role. Michael Fabiano, in voice and demeanor, also plays his role convincingly, and as Suzuki (Hyona Kim) complements the cast with Lucas Meachem as Sharpless.  The new production of SF Opera, Madame Butterfly is magnificent.

In l898, David Belasco wrote a one-act play based on a novel by John Luther, written in l898,  based on  Nagasaki's Japan's tales, where his sister lived  as the wife of a Methodist Missionary and had actually met the 15 year old Geisha in person.

Puccini's MADAME BUTTERFLY first version, in two acts premiered on February l904 in Milan Teatro Alla Scala and in its three acts second version on May 1904.