Sam Cooke, Willie Nelson and Giacomo Puccini.
All three giants in the world of music. All three of them writing perhaps their greatest works, one after another. Three great ones in a row.
For Cooke, it was "What a Wonderful World," "Chain Gang" and "A Change is Gonna Come."
For Nelson, it was "Crazy," "Hello Walls" and "Funny How Time Slips Away."
And for Puccini, it was "La Boheme," "Tosca" and "Madama Butterfly."
Milwaukee is going through what might be called "Puccini season,’ with two of the greatest of his operas getting the treatment from two wonderful companies. It opened with a brilliant production of "Tosca," which closed its run at Skylight last weekend.
There won’t be any withdrawal symptoms, though, because next weekend the highly respected Florentine Opera opens "Madama Butterfly," the last of Puccini’s trio of great works, for a two performance run Oct. 16 and 18 in Uihlein Hall at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.
The opera is an ultra-romantic and ultra-tragic story of a U.S. Navy officer who takes a 15-year-old Japanese geisha for a wife. Officer Pinkerton, though, leaves Cio-Cio San and returns to America. She delivers their child and raises him, all the while resisting efforts to get her to remarry and pining for the return of Pinkerton. She is convinced he will be back.
He does return – with his American wife but believing he has made a mistake leaving Cio-Cio San. His wife, Kate, has agreed to raise the child, and Cio-Cio San says she will give the baby to them if Pinkerton himself comes to see her. He does, she blindfolds her son and gives him to Pinkerton, then walks behind a screen and stabs herself with her father’s knife.
The role of cio-Cio San has one of the most beautiful and famous arias in all of the world of opera, one many people have heard at one time or in one version or another. The aria is "Un Bel Di" – or "One Fine Day" – and you can hear the famed Maria Callas sing it here.
In Florentin…Read more...