Madame Butterfly

Edouard Detaille, "Charge of the Fourth Hussars at the Battle of Friedland," 1891. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney/Wikimedia Commons


Listening to Kelly Kaduce’s voice float like a butterfly and sting like a bee as Cio-Cio-San in Portland Opera’s new Madame Butterfly, it struck me again: operatic warhorses are warhorses for a reason. And part of that reason is that audiences, which by and large are not made up of stupid people, love melody.

They also love drama, and talent, and technique. And in Kaduce’s full-bodied but exquisitely controlled singing of one of the signature roles in all of opera, they can find a revivifying antidote to the sort of pop-diva wretched excess expressed most recently in Kelly Clarkson’s enthusiastic and clueless butchering of the national anthem before the start of last weekend’s Super Bowl football game.

There’s a right way to do this thing. And Kaduce (as well as Puccini and his librettists, Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa) did it right.

So why is there grumbling in the land?


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