Thursday, March 10, 2011

A night at the opera and ANOTHER Bangla exam

So, the Diplomat and I got cultural on Tuesday night and to my utter delight, went to the Kennedy Center to see Puccini's Madama Butterfly. Out of all the operas I have seen (and I have seen a lot), this has got to be the saddest one in the world. The story itself is horribly sad but to add to the drama, it includes a 3-year old child, whose mother (for no necessary reason) kills herself because the father (a seemingly heartless American) breaks her heart. By the middle of the second act, I was already sobbing uncontrollably and because I had no handkerchief, kept wiping my eyes with my expensive Indian pashmina shawl. Then, the little kid came out on the stage, and he looked so incredibly like Son that my crying may have turned into hysteria. The 80-plus old lady sitting next to me was peacefully sleeping through all the drama, giving away random delighted snores from time to time, but was waking up every single time right on cue to clap. A true music fiend, that one.
I had scored rather cheap orchestra seats tickets online and suspected that there was a catch. There was--turns out, we were seated in the second row from the stage. That meant that we could see every little detail from everyone's make-up and clothing, including the stitches on everyone's socks and unshaven hair. The opera began: a dashing young Pinkerton awaits his newly-acquired Japanese wife. He extols her youth (she is supposed to be 15), and her ephemeral lightness and body so slim and gentle that he is afraid to even hold her in his arms lest he crushes her. We are all thrilled to no end and cannot wait to see her. Cio-Cio San finally enters the stage and the magic suffers a bit since she appears to be about 35-38 and um, in no way ephemeral or light and certainly not crushable. At least not by the hot Brazilian tenor. However, whatever she lacks in posture and age, she makes up more than 100 times in singing and superb acting. Cio-Cio San was performed by Ana María Martínez, a phenomenal Puerto Rican soprano who absolutely rocked the role of the 15-year old tender Japanese Butterfly. Pinkerton, or Brazilian tenor Thiago Arancam, was equally superb. Confusingly enough, the American Consul (it felt so refreshing to see an opera, where the US Foreign Service was represented!) was performed by an Asian singer (a fabulous Korean baritone by the name of Hyung Yun). All in all, we had a fantastic time, marred only by the fact that we did not have cash and by the time we procured some, the Intermission between the acts was over and we had no champagne. And if you go to the opera, you have to at least have some (rather pricey) champagne and stare/discuss everyone else's dresses during the Intermission! My night was topped by my realization that the conductor was none other than......Placido Domingo! Yes, THAT Placido Domingo, one of the Three Tenors.

In other news, I AGAIN have a Bengali test, this time my final. It is tomorrow, at 1 pm, and after that, I am Bangla free. Well, until I go to Bangladesh. Cross your fingers for me, folks!


  1. Excellent review of Madame Butterfly. Really wanted to see this version but assumed I would cry through the entire production (especially with the pregnancy hormones) :) Good luck today!