Opera Company of Philadelphia’s production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, with the much anticipated production designs by artist Jun Kaneko,opened to a sold out Academy of Music Friday night.
Kaneko’s visuals don’t, for the most part, overwhelm the musical production. The stage is bisected with triangulations and circles,the foundations of stage vistas most arrestingly in play with Drew Billau’s bold lighting designs. There are, though, indulgences in Kaneko’s themes. His projected kinetic drawings, for instance, in the age of hi-def, come off as too low tech and an art installation.
More fun and drama are vividly drawn in the processional garb on the bridesmaids (love those rings of Saturn parasols) which splash vibrantly across the stage. Just as dramatic are the line of metallic Japanese style court gowns. And Madama’s entrance, in a silver deco-winged headdress and virginal kimono ensem is a drag dream. Those images thankfully draw attention eye away from the unfortunate patch stitch uniform worn by Lt. Pinkerton.
But, hits or misses, the art is still just accessorizing Puccini’s magnificent music and in the hands of conductor Corrado Rovaris, the OCP’s orchestration is sonic and detailed.