24 Mar Madama Butterfly – Vero Beach Opera review
January 25, 2018
Your Vero Beach Newsweekly ™
The cultural opportunities in our small city have long been impressive: the diversity, excellence, sophistication and support far exceeding the norm for a city of our modest size. Excellent examples this past week were Vero Beach Opera’s “Madama Butterfly” and Ballet Vero Beach’s “All Rodriguez,”
both staged at the Vero Beach High School Performing Arts Center. A staple of the operatic repertoire
worldwide, Puccini’s tragic masterwork about a U.S. Naval officer, Pinkerton, and the young Japanese
geisha he marries “for convenience” is, arguably, Vero Beach Opera’s most impressive, virtually flawless, fully staged production to date. Performing for the first time with the Vero Beach Opera (hopefully the first of many collaborations) was the highly respected Atlantic Classical Orchestra, under the baton of Met veteran and Grammy winner Caren Levine, a petite, charismatic powerhouse, who made a daunting responsibility look easy. Even fun. The opera-savvy, full-house audience was engaged from the moment the curtain rose on the gorgeous, exquisitely lighted set: a house and garden overlooking Nagasaki Harbor. Acting and singing were equally excellent, and the flow, curtain to curtain, belied the almost three-hour length.
Experience and numerous contacts at the apex of the opera world have served VBO Artistic Director Roman OrtegaCowan and President Joan Ortega Cowan well as, through the years, they have transformed the all-local Vero Beach Opera Guild of the 1980s into a professional company with sufficient clout to draw top international stars. The strong, well-chosen cast of “Madama Butterfly” included a husband and wife: Uruguayan soprano Maria Antunez as Madama Butterfly, and Uruguayan tenor Martin Nusspaumer as Pinkerton. Antunez was able to maintain the geisha physicality while projecting the broad, emotional vocal dimensions the story demanded, and Nusspaumer was an excellent match, a charming cad, able at once to convey blithe affection and careless cruelty.
“Madama Butterfly” received aloud, lengthy, well-deserved standing ovation, and the audience’s exit conversations were filled with superlatives.