Annapolis Opera production of 'Madame Butterfly' soars

November 08, 1996|By Pat Hook | Pat Hook,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Annapolis Opera Company's productions always are entertaining, but "Madame Butterfly," presented at Maryland Hall last weekend, was extraordinarily enjoyable.

Allison Charney sang with great feeling the demanding role of the former geisha girl who marries an American Naval officer. She sustained her lush voice throughout the performance, even though she was onstage almost constantly.

Charney's "Un bel di" at the beginning of the second act had the audience applauding before she was finished. The pain and sense of loss that lay beneath the fanciful picture of the fine day her Lieutenant Pinkerton would return were almost palpable.

Steve Cramer, a versatile tenor whose repertoire ranges from popular fare to grand opera, played Pinkerton with the air of superiority composer Giacomo Puccini must have had in mind when he created the character who marries a geisha, leaves Japan and returns three years later with an American wife.

Cramer's voice, however, sometimes was overpowered by that of Morgan Reed, whose voice crackled through the auditorium as he sang Sharpless, the U.S. consul in Nagasaki.

Marcia Plait Treece complemented Charney well in her role as Suzuki, Butterfly's servant.

Surprisingly, "Madame Butterfly" was not well received when it opened in Milan in 1904. It was withdrawn after only one performance, and a revised version appeared three months later. Puccini would have been pleased with the Annapolis company's production of his work.

Braxton Peters as musical director is certainly to be praised. He knows how to link body and hand movements to the music.

And Ronald J. Gretz is a wonderful conductor who led a superb orchestra. It is easy to see why no one wants to sit behind him. This conductor really moves.

With this production, it becomes obvious why Annapolis Opera Company gets such talent at its auditions. The word is out: Annapolis Opera is a prestigious company in which to sing.

Pub Date: 11/08/96

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