“Madama Butterfly” is the desperately sad story of Cio-Cio San, as gentle and fragile as a paper flower, who marries heartless Pinkerton. I think out of all the villains in opera, I hate Pinkerton more than any of them. He is a cruel selfish man who has no regard for the feelings of Cio-Cio San, a 15-year-old Japanese girl who this brash American naval officer marries for pure convenience in Nagasaki.
He intends to leave her for an American wife and when he is away, three years later, this patient girl is still waiting for him to return to her and their son. The aria “Un bel di” and “Coro a boca chiusa” (the Humming Chorus) are both delicately beautiful and melancholy.
Her hari-kiri at the finale is not just desperation but to her, as her father before her, a noble end to suffering and a way to inflict eternal suffering on Pinkerton, who has returned with his new wife and intends to take away Cio-Cio San’s son as if he is removing a piece of furniture.
Although its premiere at La Scala was disastrous and the critics vociferous in their hatred of “Madama Butterfly”, the opera was revised and brought out again to a more favourable reception.
“La bohème” illustrates the desperate poverty of a group of artists in Paris, freezing, sickly and hopelessly in love. All the love in the world cannot keep Mimi alive in the squalid living conditions over the winter as Adolfo and Rodrigo burn their manuscripts and cannot pay the rent.
Musetta and Mimi find wealthier men to keep them but inevitably this opera is not going to have a happy-ever-after. With its strong storyline and well developed central characters, “La bohème” is maybe the purest of the Puccini operas, the one which the harshest critics soften to. Puccini himself had lived such a life as a student, suffering poverty which he used as inspiration for “La bohème”.
“Turandot” is Puccini’s final magnificent opera. The sadistic and beautiful Chinese princess who sets three riddles to would-be suitors, then has them executed for failing to give the right answer, has attracted many critics for being such a “disgusting” character. “Turandot” is so full of cruelty, yet there is tenderness and love versus hate, and some of the most beautiful arias and sensational vocal ranges of all Puccini’s operas.
Uncharacteristic for Pucccini, the opera does not end in tragedy, but as Puccini himself died leaving the opera in its final stages, maybe he would have chosen to end it fatally. Franco Alfano completed the opera and it premiered at La Scala in 1926. The Asiatic influences in the music are distinctive as Puccini uses pentatonic or five-note motifs, instead of the seven-note scale.
“Il trittico”, or “Tryptich”, is three-one act operas, with “Gianni Schicchi” based on Dante’s epic poem “The Divine Comedy”. The link between the three is that they all deal with the concealment of a death. Puccini intended the three to be performed together, but often only two are staged. The premiere night on December 12 will be a rare opportunity to see all three.
The absence in the Puccini fabric which is noticeable is “Manon Lescaut”; although composer Jules Massenet first turned it into a success, Puccini was determined to interpret it in his own Italian way, full of passion and anguish. Critics are hostile, suggesting Puccini assumed his audience could follow the narrative, which jumps from place to place, but the beauty of the orchestral score and the devastating fall of Manon deserve a place in the opera world. The fact that this opera is so rarely performed is a tragedy in itself. via budapesttimes.com
Giacomo Puccini Season
“Il trittico (“Tryptich”) – “Gianni Schicchi”, “Suor Angelica”, “Il Tabarro”
Opera House, District VI
Andrássy út 22
Erkel Theatre, District VIII
II János Pál Pápa tér 30,
For more information and tickets please contact us.