The past months of April and May were spent in the wonderful city of Dallas, Texas, working with the Dallas Opera. The only thing that could have trumped the world premiere of Jake Heggy’s much touted (and rightfully so) Moby Dick, and the wonderful remount of Francesca Zambello’s Madame Butterfly was the actual continuation of the Dallas Opera season in the magnificent new Winspear Opera House. It may have taken 20 years to get it built, but Jonathan Pell has much to be proud of. He moved this company from an old 1970’s music hall theatre, to a state-of-the-art facility that makes an opera singer drool. With excellent acoustics for the audience, a sleek modern design–including giant glass lobby walls that retract allowing the lobby itself to become al fresco–along with many classic opera house touches, the city of Dallas is set for generations of great opera ahead.
The cast for the Butterfly with which I was thankful to work, was probably the finest overall in my many years of singing the role of Goro (Brandon Jovanovich, Adina Nitescu, James Westman, and Maria Zifchak, respectively rounded out the cast). Add to that, a fine student matinee performance cast that presented a stunning Yunah Lee as Cio Cio San. Never before have I seen such a fine internalized performance with the utmost of concentration that drew the audience to her, as opposed to delivering it to the audience. I recall in musical rehearsal as Graeme Jenkins drew strands of delicious taffy from the throat of this stunning young Korean talent with his magnificent quietly insistent conducting. I will never forget Jonathan Pell, who attended some of these same rehearsals, as he would occasionally close his eyes, lean his head back, and “mouth” with delight every word of Pinkerton’s and Butterfly’s Act I duet!!!!!
Neither will I forget the camaraderie which the entire cast shared. Weekend BBQ’s were a regular occurrence, dinners out, parties, etc. Not since the 2002 cast of Sweeney Todd at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, have I done so much with the same group of people with whom I spent my days (and nights) working. When I left Dallas, I was saddened (rare for me). Another boost was reacquainting with some old friends from college, some 25 years hence. Luckily for me, some of these same great folks are here now in Santa Fe doing (you guessed it) Madame Butterfly!!! My good friend and colleague Keith Jameson will sing the role of Goro, and I surely wish him well.