Madame Butterfly — An Opera Trip

The play: Madame Butterfly is a 3 act opera. This one lasted 3 hours. It was written by Giacamo Puccini, an Italian composer, and it premiered in 1904. It is about a U.S. naval officer who marries a Japanese geisha (named Cio-Cio san/Madame Butterfly), but has intentions of eventually marrying an American wife. He leaves Japan for 3 years immediately after his marriage to Cio-Cio san, during which she awaits his return. The officer then returns with his American wife Kate, but  — before he speaks with Cio-Cio san —  things take a turn for the worse.

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Il Teatro Del Maggio Musicale Florentino

The theater was a large, rounded theater building with three levels for seating and was all red and very pretty. It was definitely designed to maximize good acoustics, as the actors sing out to the audience without aid of microphones.

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The stage: was covered in flat platforms representationally set to suggest Japanese architecture. The perimeters of the building’s interior and exterior seemed to be open to interpretation and malleable, constantly changing with the scenes.

My experience probably was not the most positive. A lot of the people sitting near me kept coughing and acting distracted/uninterested, which I really don’t like. I think that if a play is uninteresting it might be better to leave early than act uninterested in a way that your neighbors can see. I wouldn’t sit through an entire play/opera I wasn’t interested in. It just makes me realize how untrained modern audiences are with theater manners — the culture of going out to the theater dressed well and with good theater manners has eroded among the common people, maybe because of very accessible, modern entertainment that doesn’t require any particular etiquette (I’m referring to television, entertainment available via iPhones, and modern movie theaters as well).

The Italian 13-year-old sitting directly in front of me was throwing a fit and pulling his mom’s hair, and she literally pushed him away by the face. At a Shakespeare play I saw in Ashland during the Shakespeare festival, someone was laughing loudly and wildly. I think it’s just extremely disrespectful to be disruptive in any of these ways.

A cool part: The concessions stand was huge and pretty fancy, selling hot chocolate, coffee, flan, chocolate bars, and pasta to name a few things.
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(Not from the theater) Just a cute, small chocolate dessert I took home earlier in the day. Some of the kids here don’t recognize that fruit; they’re goose berries, and are pretty tart. I like them, I think they offset the sweetness well 🙂

I enjoyed having an occasion to dress nicely for, and it was fun seeing all my classmates get dressed up too (most of us wore black).

Tips for attending an opera:

  • If you don’t know where the theater is, take a taxi! I did, and I split the cost with a few other friends.
  • Dress nicely — you’ll be embarrassed if you’re the only one not dressed nicely/cleanly.
  • Don’t come to the theater drunk. Yes, this actually happens/happened.
  • If you’re really bored/don’t like it, just leave early and have some gelato or something you’ll enjoy.
  • Don’t come late!! Italian theater’s don’t let you in late. Once the doors close, they stay closed.  Again, I advise taking a taxi to the theater.
  • Go take a look at the concessions stand 🙂
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