Since I’m finally home and done with the busy “producer” schedule I’ve been on for the three weeks prior to the premier of Madama Butterfly, I thought I would give you a view of the production as I saw it:
Great opera often happens in unexpected places and venues…case in point, last week’s Madama Butterfly in Boise, Idaho, where the intimate and funky Egyptian Theater served as the backdrop for two excellent performances of Puccini’s beloved masterpiece …. You would think that golden pharaohs, scantily clad slaves and hieroglyphics would clash mightily with a turn of the (last) century Japanese “casa soffietto”, ma no! A cleverly designed set (by Jennifer Wilhelmi) and costumes from Eugene Opera meshed deliciously in this small, acoustically excellent old movie house. Combined with an attractive and talented young cast, led by the stunning Cio-cio-san of young Greek/American soprano, Eleni Calenos.
Opera Idaho treated Boise opera afficionados to two sold out evenings of verismo enchantment, led by Metropolitan Opera conductor, and recent Classical Singer “Coach of the Year”, Steven Crawford. Executive Director Mark Junkert is responsible for bringing together a wonderful ensemble of local and international artists, which included Chris Bengochea (Pinkerton), Jason and Michelle Detwiler (Sharpless and Suzuki), Peter Tantsits (Goro) and Jim Poston (the Bonze). Mr. Junkert clearly has an excellent vision for this growing regional company, and with productions like these, the future for Opera Idaho appears to be very bright, indeed… Their season continues with Donizetti’s Daughter of the Regiment and a semi-staged Carousel in early summer.
This production of Madama Butterfly continues a long personal relationship that began almost 28 years years ago, with a 54 performance Western Opera Tour in which I logged my first 17 performances of Sharpless and many more as Yamadori, the Imperial Commissioner and even Yakuside. A year later, I performed Yamadori at the San Francisco Opera, coached by the great Italian basso, Paolo Montarsolo, who was the Bonze on the famous EMI recording with Renata Scotto and Carlo Bergonzi. Since then, I have sung Sharpless many more times, and this production at Opera Idaho is the third that I have directed. Every time I sit and listen to this quintessential example of Puccini’s lyrical, emotional genius, I am filled with gratitude for the friendship of my late teacher and coach, Lorenzo Malfatti, who took me to Torre del Lago in 1985 to walk by the lake and sit at the desk where Butterfly was written and breathe the Tuscan air which inspired it! There is no adequate thanks for such a gift, but….Grazie ancora, maestro! “Un’ bel di”, I hope to do so again:)
I wasn’t intending to be a PR agent for Boise, but after singing/directing there three times in the past eight years, I have to say that it is clean, modern and beautiful city, with a wide and interesting variety of activities… cultural, culinary and recreational. The people seem to take great pride in their city, and have invariably been kind and helpful… the weather is consistently mild, and the scenery is gorgeous! If you find yourself in the Boise area, check out Opera Idaho, and the many other things that the area has to offer. And as a final note, the fly fishing opportunities within two hours are amazing!!
P.S. If you ever visit Boise, I highly recommend seeing a production at Opera Iaho. http://www.operaidaho.org/
David offers vocal lessons and voice coaching to professionals, students and beginners. He brings thirty years of professional experience specializing in healthy vocal technique, classical music, musical theater, choral music, Italian, and German and French Diction to your learning experience. Whether your goal is the MET, your local school or church choral group or improved confidence in your singing and/or public speaking, David can help you!
David also performs in, directs, produces, and conducts operas and is available singing engagements. Schedule a lesson or performance now! (970)209-9750 or firstname.lastname@example.org.