Thursday, January 13, 2011


I'd intended to go on some more about Patricia Racette's Butterfly in Sydney. About her quite striking stage presence, shorter in stature than I'd expected for whatever reason, but a much stronger persona, quietly confident about herself and her abilities I think. From that legendary Puccini entrance (heard before seen always works well) she has that rare magic something which magnifies her space. And she is very beautiful, in face and eyes and smile, oh that smile, and movement. She's soft but strong. Her Butterfly was no child bride, not a foolish girl who forsakes her heritage for money, but a woman in love. In love with a future, with an exotic stranger, ultimately with her child, though still prepared to abandon her child for honour, dramatically strong if nonetheless somewhat implausible.

And I was going to talk about her voice, and how she sings the words, and phrases the notes into wonderful Puccini lines with a touch of verismo, of which we hear so little these days. And how she when she moves up the scale and opens up the voice takes on a soft pulse which gives it extra warmth and feeling.

And I was thinking I should mention Rosario La Spina playing her gauche self-serving American. Not. There is simply no characterisation at all. Zip. Mr La Spina did sing all the notes, mostly loudly. The set helps, a box set which is about the only way to get the voices out in this theatre. (Remember Grimes and how good it sounded.) But I'd have liked more than the notes, something like words and phrases and meaning, something then approaching feeling. And I have to say, the lower middle girth is getting to the giggle stage - leave your long coat on Mr La Spina. Never mind. Nothing could impact the splendidness of the star, and anyway, she was the only reason I was there.

So then I started You-tubing, and there are some clips of Patricia Racette singing Butterfly, mostly from the Met HD, and one ten years ago from the Tucker Gala, which is quite wonderful although the microphone catches too much on the respiratory work too closely. They give some idea, but that's all, as to what she really sounds like.

But I found this, and here for me is the secret to her Butterfly. She knows about love, and about honesty. That's the thing with Butterfly, she loves, and (exempting the kid of course) she's the only honest creature on stage the whole damn night. The only one.

Honestly, it's all about love...

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