Opening Night for Madama Butterfly

Last night, I was invited to attend the opening night performance of Vancouver Opera’s production of Madama Butterfly. This was my second Opera and the last production for the VO this season.

Backstage at Madama Butterfly

As I mentioned previously, I’m not an opera goer and was not familiar with the material. I was told that I would have probably heard some of the music used in Butterfly and that the plot shouldn’t be a big surprise as it’s a commonly occurring one (I won’t spoil it in case you don’t know what I’m talking about). Both these points turned out to be very true.

Backstage for Madama Butterfly @vancouveropera

As before, we were given a backstage tour before the show which I quite enjoy.

Backstage at Madama Butterfly

The set this time around was quite different from Norma’s with its vertigo inducing lines and bold shapes and colours. On the tour, Kelsey suggested that it could easily be used as a set for a 60’s game show.

Backstage at Madama Butterfly

I love seeing the ‘craft’ that goes into a production of this scale after my humble beginnings producing plays in local *cough no budget cough* theatre.

Backstage at Madama Butterfly

Backstage at Madama Butterfly with @theanthology

Unlike my previous visit to the Opera, this time we had front row seats. I liked this A LOT. It dramatically improved my appreciation for what was unfolding on stage where I could see every nuance of the actors performances as well as a perfect view of the stage. If I stood up a little, I could even peer down into the orchestra pit:

The orchestra pit, directly in front of me #opera

Last time, I was fairly far back on the main floor. Not a horrible place to view the Opera from by any means, it’s just a much better experience in the front in my opinion.

View from the backrow @VancouverOpera

Puccini’s music certainly was familiar to me. As had been suggested to me, it has been used in many movies before. It was nice to finally connect the dots on something like this so I now know where it came from.

Again, like last time, this Opera reminded me of a videogame. Due to it’s strikingly bold colours & costumes, strong visuals and somewhat nautical theme (thanks to Mr. Pinkerton), I was immediately thinking of the Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. The game contains many similar traits to Madama Butterfly with it’s family ties, bold colours, dramatic music and many simple characters. The musical interlude between the second and third acts even further strengthened this connection for me with the three panels of video projections that could have easily been produced for the videogame (this isn’t a bad thing).

Due to my seat in the front row, the surtitles above weren’t that readable without craning my neck but I found the story easy enough to follow along without too many looks upward.

I thoroughly enjoyed this performance. Clocking in at around 2 hours 40 minutes, I can’t recall a single time when I was thinking it was dragging or was slow. It actually seemed to be fairly quick and before I knew it, I was backstage afterwards meeting the cast.

Backstage at Madama Butterfly

Cast and crew of Madama Butterfly
One final thing that still surprises me that happens during the final bows at the end of both Opera’s I’ve attended is the extended ovation that gradually builds as the performers come out. For Butterfly, it went on for a long time and it was cool to see the passion the audience had for these performers. It’s not often you see an older gentleman hoot and holler while wearing a tux.

As a side note, this post and photos was mostly created on the iPad during the course of the evening…which in itself was fun thanks to a number of curious Opera goers inquiring about it during the intermission.
Thanks to @gillianshaw, I finally have an iPad camera kit
After finally obtaining the camera connection kit for the iPad, I thought it would be a good test to see if you could in fact, use an iPad completely in place of a laptop to photograph/process/upload photos, and write a blog post on the spot.

It almost worked.

I was able to shoot backstage photos, download them to the iPad, post-processed a few favs with the Camerabag for iPad app, upload them to Flickr/Twitter during the performance straight off the iPad.

Using the WordPress iPad app proved to be the weakest link unfortunately…I had to resort to my laptop (at home later since I didn’t bring it to the show) because the app was too flaky for my workflow and it was tedious to switch back and forth from Flickr to the app to paste in the photos (I rarely upload my photos directly into WordPress, but instead embed them from my Flickr account) – it probably would have better to simply use Safari for the WordPress side for this task.

That aside, I am impressed with how well the photo side of things worked out and look forward to being to upload photos on the go at other events.


  1. Ling says:

    Hi John,

    Thanks so much for being a part of our Blogger Night at the Opera. It was so great having y’all celebrate with us our Golden Anniversary season.

    We are delighted that as an opera newbie, you have come to appreciate opera!

    Hope to see you at the theatre next season!

    Ling Chan

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