Sunday, May 28, 2006

Butterfly Under The Dome

The first audience members for the free 8PM simulcast of the opening of the San Francisco Opera's "Madama Butterfly" production showed up around 5PM. They had even brought a low table on which to gracefully eat and drink an early dinner.

In a nice touch, the trees on either side of the central lawn had been decorated with paper lanterns.

It didn't take long for the crowd to swell... thousands of people who took up the entire central lawn...

...and were soon spilling over to the side lawns too.

A group of opera supernumeraries had set up a beachhead near the front of the crowd...

...not far from the giant screen resting on top of a large truck parked on Polk Street.

Even though the winds whipping through the Civic Center Plaza were bone-chilling, the atmosphere outdoors can best be described as both hopeful and festive.

At one point, the fine British director of the production, Ron Daniels (in the center), cruised by to check out the crowd soon before the curtain rose.

The colors on the video were a bit "hot," as in slightly too bright, and there was one very wobbly videographer all evening...

...but all in all the direction of the simulcast was intelligent and well-done.

My only real objection was with other photographers who kept using flashes on their cameras, which were completely unnecessary, particularly after the performance had begun.

There were also the ambient noises of sirens and airplanes to contend with, but that goes with the territory.

The huge audience in the plaza was great: quiet, attentive and thoroughly absorbed with the opera.

Patricia Racette, who had been battling a sore throat all week, sang poor, abused Butterfly with a no-holds-barred intensity and beautiful sound that made fans out of everyone.

Stephen Cole as the evil marriage pimp Goro was another standout, as was Zheng Cao as Suzuki.

Congratulations are in order to everyone involved (except for the dreadful emcee from the awful KDFC classical music station), and here is a request that this wonderful experiment be repeated for the fall opening night, which is in September, the real summertime in San Francisco.


p said...

so they're gonna do it again?

Kimo Crossman said...

What a nice but chilly evening - I second your vote for September!

Houston said...

I was there and had a great time. The last half hour though was a bit frigid. I was cold and I was better prepared than others in my party who became restless and perhaps a bit too chatty for the folks around us. A few of those outdoor heaters would have been pleasant. All in all, I like the attempt to popularize S.F. Opera. I'm sure we could convince them to livecast the opening in the Fall if we promised to let the cameras scan the socialites in the audience.

Having seen only about a dozen productions of Madama Butterfly by the S.F. Opera, no less, I thought this performance energetic and memorable, at least much more so than the several previous Butterflies.

AlbGlinka said...

Mike: Your photos are great as usual-- I was out of town, so missed it, but it looks like it was a great evening. Yay, opera!

Nancy said...

Mike~This was a fantastic time! Especially seeing the Diva on a speeding golf cart.