I am sorry if you missed the high def broadcast of the Met’s Lucia di Lammermoor. You made a wretched mistake and we shall not dwell on it.
Okay we might dwell on it a little bit. Among other things (specters! Filial deception! Russian and Polish people singing in Italian while acting Scottish!), you missed a 20 minute mad scene in which Anna Netrebko, arguably the hottest diva in all of opera, goes nuts. Suffice it to say that going back to your wedding reception after knocking off your brandy spandy new husband is likely to get noticed and no one will want to dance with you.
You missed a doozy. BUT! You can redeem yourself on March 7th! The Metropolitan Opera is doing yet another high def broadcast. This time it’s Madama Butterfly, which is equally depressing even though it has 50% fewer deaths than Lucia.
My sister and I were dragged to see Madama Butterfly when we were kids and all we remember is how horribly we behaved. That and how boring it was watching her sit around and wait for Pinkerton to show up. Oh, if we had only known what we were watching. And if only there had been subtitles. And if only we had appreciated that anything involving geishas is kind of awesome. We would have been much, much better.
So. Madama Butterfly is temporarily married off to an American Lieutenant at the turn of the last century. She’s a geisha, but she’s young and naïve and doesn’t realize it’s a temporary thing. He leaves after knocking her up, and she waits for his return.
And she waits.
And she waits.
And then he shows up! But he’s with his legit wife. The non-temporary, non-Japanese one. Let me here insert that historically, Americans have shown themselves to be Real Wankers sometimes. I fully intend to throw things at Pinkerton, à la Rocky Horror Picture Show. Don’t worry, theater owners, I throw like a girl.
I don’t want to ruin the ending for you, but let’s just say it doesn’t go well.
Yes, there’s some waiting. It’s not exactly like Waiting for Guffman, in that it takes place in Japan, has nothing to do with amateur theater and has a humming chorus. A humming chorus! Also, the part of the little boy is played (portrayed?) by a puppet. I was leery of this at first because the puppet in question looks like an artist’s mannequin and I figured it was just a budget cut. However, it’s Japanese puppet theater and I have heard on the streets that that little block of wood will break your stone cold heart.
I dare you to show up and not weep like a humming chorus baby. Please note that if you want to take me up on my dare, you have to get tickets soon. Those people who didn’t miss Lucia are already lining back up at the box office. Even though there’s 50% less death.
photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera