Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
bertrande

Stanton Welch's Madame Butterfly 16/10, 17/10

8 posts in this topic

Thought this might interest some posters here because the production involved dancers from the National Ballet of Canada, Houston Ballet and the Australian Ballet- a pretty international cast by any standards. :blink:

I attended the performances on 16 October and 17 October. The cast list was as follows:

16/10

Butterfly: Xia Haiying

Pinkerton: Nicholas Paul Leschke

Suzuki: Sakura Shimizu

Goro: Mohd Noor Sarman

Sharpless: Jacek Bres

17/10

Butterfly: Goh Chan Hon

Pinkerton: Geon van der Wyst

Suzuki: Sakura Shimizu

Goro: Steven Woodgate

Sharpless: Jacek Bres

I really liked Welch's choreography, especially Act 2. Act 1 didn't flow quite as well and the problem was evident both nights I saw it. The pace tended to drag a little in the first Act, especially the section prior to the Wedding Ceremony. The ballet is a straightforward story-ballet with few opportunities to showcase the talents of individual dancers save the principals. There were no extended solo bits but a lot of corps work, which worked fine with me.

Despite the star billing of the 17/10 performance, I felt the show on 16/10 moved me more. Was moved to tears when Butterfly killed herself and that came from sitting in the 2nd circle! I was in the stalls the following night and the projection somehow didn't come through. The performance was less affecting, and my sentiments were echoed by the muted applause given by the audience. On the 16th, whistles and cat calls were heard at the close of each act, and not just when the principals came forward to take their bows. For what it's worth, standing ovations were also more spontaneously given on the night of the 16th.

Xia Haiying (one of the nominees for this year's Benois de la danse) may not have been as technically complete as Goh Chan Hon but her performance was rich in dramatic prowess one could note the fine characterisation which she brought to the role. She was sweet and tender without being too childish and her anguish was heart-wrenching. Her arms are also the most fluid I've ever seen, absolutely liquid and boneless- her port de bras was exquisite. Her balances were not quite as steady and her legs are quite muscular when compared to her upper body but she more than made up for it with her wonderful artistry and musicality. Goh totally didn't reach me in Act 1. She was technically amazing but I felt her performance did not project; I felt nothing for the sweet innocent young thing on stage. Perhaps she was too comfortable in the role and that transformed into complacency. In any case, it was not memorable. She redeemed herself, however, in Act 2, when she was all energy and emotion. There, technique and drama met and fused, resulting in a powerful powerful closure. I loved her risk-taking and her balances and only wished she'd invested more in the first Act.

There was not much to choose between Leschke and van der Wyst although I preferred Leshcke's portrayal. He was more earnest than flippant in the Wedding Scene, which made his remorse at the end of the ballet more believable. van der Wyst was the better partner amongst the two and I felt his characterisation was well thought-out, although there were lapses in technique in the first Act.

Among the secondary characters, Woodgate's Goro was hilarious and rightfully deserved the applause he received at the end of the show.

On the whole, the ballet is well-worth a watch, even two, although I believe some tweaking as to the pace can be done to further tighten the piece.

Hope this hasn't put anyone to sleep- I'm more at ease giving theatre reviews than ballet critiques. :sweating: As a side-note, has anyone noticed that Puccini's score during Ora a Noi very closely mirrors 'Bring Him Home' from Les Mis? Some of the phrases are identical and the structure of the piece is very similar as well. For those who've seen Butterfly, it's the bit where Suzuki and the Butterfly double perform the shadowplay behind the screens while waiting for Pinkerton to arrive. :D

Share this post


Link to post

I wasn't put to sleep, bertrande, I found your review very well written and interesting. Does the ballet closely follow the outline of the opera? I gather it does. I'm not surprised that the composer of Les Miz and Miss Saigon cribbed a melody or two from Puccini. Where would today's composers be without him? And the maestro himself was not beyond occasional acts of artful appropriation, including the Star-Spangled Banner. Because of a certain parochialism of mine, I was most interested in what you had to say about about Chan Hon Goh, a principal dancer with the Suzanne Farrell Ballet. :blink:

Share this post


Link to post

Farrell Fan, thank you for your kind words. The ballet does closely follow the outline of the ballet. Lanchberry (the man who adapted the score for ballet) changed the positions of 2 segments of the score but as far as I could tell, nothing much was amiss. :blink:

Share this post


Link to post
Farrell Fan, thank you for your kind words. The ballet does closely follow the outline of the ballet. Lanchberry (the man who adapted the score for ballet) changed the positions of 2 segments of the score but as far as I could tell, nothing much was amiss. :clapping:

it is such a beautiful Ballet and is refreshingly different .

Share this post


Link to post

I seem to recall in the cobwebs of my mind that the Puccini Foundation got a tiny bit mad at Andrew LLoyd Weber for his "Puccini-inspiration" in Phantom, and whoever did Les Miz for the same reason...

I may be wrong...

Anyone else?

Clara 76

Share this post


Link to post
I seem to recall in the cobwebs of my mind that the Puccini Foundation got a tiny bit mad at Andrew LLoyd Weber for his "Puccini-inspiration" in Phantom, and whoever did Les Miz for the same reason...

According to Speight Jenkins, the General Director of the Seattle Opera, in a post-performance Q&A of La Fanciulla del West, they sued ALW successfully for ripping off Puccini. One of the main themes in "Music of the Night" is from Fanciulla.

I don't know about Les Miz.

Share this post


Link to post

The recurring melody in Turandot was taken straight from a popular Chinese folk song.

Share this post


Link to post

Anon is well known for failing to press charges against those who rip him off. :angry2:

Share this post


Link to post
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0