MADAME BUTTERFLY (LA OPERA)

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Third time’s a charm! After our first two opera experiences, (Ghosts of Versailles and The Magic Flute) I wasn’t totally sold on opera, which seems silly since some of my favorite musical theatre shows are sing-thrus (can I hear it for Les Mis?!). I’ll be honest, I only agreed to go this third time in the hopes that we’d maybe score some Founders Circle seats again (see the post on our Magic Flute experience). But boy am I happy to share that I absolutely LOVED Madame Butterfly. So much so that this blog post has two photos!

I don’t know what it is about Butterfly that changed my mind. No, we were not in the Founders Circle again. But from the first moment, I was riveted. I didn’t close my eyes or fall asleep once! The story reminds me of Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil’s Miss Saigon, another musical theatre sing-thru favorite of mine. I’m sure that comparison has been made plenty of times before. This is my first opera experience where I felt like the voices were telling the story. Not the lyrics, but the voices, the music. It’s easy to see why Ana Maria Martinez has played the role of Madame Butterfly countless times before – she was flawless. Her voice swayed and bent with emotion.

The entire cast was strong, vocally and visually. My favorite part was the 3-part duet between Cio-Cio-San, Suzuki and Sharpless (a la “The Confrontation” from Les Mis!). And Madame Butterfly clearly has a cult following, given the number of audience members who came dressed up in kimonos. Two fun anecdotes from the evening – our seat neighbors showed up JUST for act II, and we almost got run over by some rich dude tearing out of the Founders Circle parking garage.

– Jerusha

Trevor: Ana Maria Martinez was breathtaking as Madame Butterfly. And the little boy was adorable!

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BARCELONA (GEFFEN)

IMG_3637We LOVED Barcelona at the Geffen! It was a beautifully performed piece from start to finish, with believable and moving performances by the two stars. The set was gorgeous, with a Barcelona cityscape projected on the back wall and wall-to-wall windows in front it.

The performance begins with a wildly choreographed sex scene which had the audience giggling (can’t wait to see MORE sex in Sex with Strangers at the Geffen later this week!). The piece is about an American woman attending a bachelorette weekend getaway, who goes home with an older Spaniard. Over the course of the night, they bare their souls and in a twisted way, help each other come to terms with their inner demons.

Given the current political climate, it was interesting to see how playwright Bess Wohl chose to portray Americans – it was not very flattering. And the Spaniard is your stereotypically suave European…at first. Over the course of the play, the audience is taken on a journey which results in neither character being who you first thought they were. The play is SMART. The dialogue, the character development, the subtle nuances between what is said and what really is. It’s hard to say much more without giving the whole thing away. You’ve got one more week to catch it at the Geffen!

UPDATE: We missed Sex With Strangers…

THE MAGIC FLUTE (LA OPERA)

IMG_3689I (we) have been very bad and not written in a while. I’m sure so many of you are disappointed…

If you had the opportunity to see LA Opera’s last presentation of The Magic Flute then you got quite a treat! Barrie Kosky’s mounting of the epic opera is the perfect gateway for someone who has never seen opera before or is new to the art form, because it is highly visual. The show is a send up to movies of the silent film era, and a visual effects screen projects a vast array of images throughout the performance that are sure to delight and entertain. My favorite is definitely the Queen of the Night (masterfully played by So Young Park) who portrays a giant spider who throws daggers.

The only reason why one would not enjoy this delightful production is if they are an opera traditionalist. There is a lot going on all at once. At the expense of displeasing some opera aficionados, I think the show has created some new opera fans; which is far more important for LA Opera and the survival of opera itself.

– Trevor

Jerusha: Not to mention our totally AMAZING seats in the Founders Circle! I cannot…ever…see opera any other way. The blog post photo doesn’t do our seats justice, because we had an unimpeded view of the entire stage and orchestra pit!