Saturday, May 5, 2012

Here Comes Trouble

Some of the best ‘entrance music’ in all of opera belongs to the child in Madama Butterfly, traditionally called “Trouble,” even though what his mother actually says, when Sharpless asks the child’s name, is “Say: ‘Today my name is Dolore [Sorrow]. But when you write my Daddy, tell him that the day he comes back, Gioia [Joy] will be my name.’” And needless to say, the soprano's voice soars up to a glorious high note as she sings the word, "Gioia." ‘Trouble’ is the name in this Italian opera’s English-language source play by David Belasco. According to Angela Davis-Gardner, author of Butterfly’s Child, a wonderful recent novel that tells of the adventures awaiting this child on his father’s family farm in Illinois and, as a teenager, on a journey back to Nagasaki, he gets called “Benji” after his father. (Left: Elizabeth Janes as Trouble with Sarah Larsen as Suzuki; Elise Bakketun, photo)

Angela Davis-Gardner, author of Butterfly's Child, was able to attend a rehearsal of Seattle Opera's production, where she met Gabriella Mercado and Elizabeth Janes, our Butterflys' Children. Look for her report on attending rehearsal, coming to this blog next week!

Casting in opera tends to be color-blind and sometimes even gender-blind, and that’s the case with Seattle Opera’s production of Madama Butterfly. The two children starring as Butterfly’s son in our two casts are both girls: Gabriella Mercado plays Patricia Racette’s son, and Elizabeth Janes will be the son of Ausrine Stundyte beginning Friday, March 11.

Patricia Racette as Cio-Cio-San, Gabriella Mercado as Trouble, and Sarah Larsen as Suzuki
Elise Bakketun, photo

Gabriella, who is 6, was spotted by Paula Podemski, Seattle Opera’s Production Supervisor and talent scout extraordinaire, while performing in The King and I with the Driftwood Players in Edmonds. She loves being onstage. Yesterday, the Everett Herald spoke with Gabriella and several of her colleagues--including stage director Peter Kazaras and Sarah Larsen, who sings Suzuki--about her role in this opera.

Patricia Racette as Cio-Cio-San with Gabriella Mercado as Trouble
Elise Bakketun, photo

Ausrine Stundyte as Cio-Cio-San, Elizabeth Janes as Trouble, and Sarah Larsen as Suzuki
Elise Bakketun, photo

Elizabeth, who will turn 5 in July, made her first onstage appearance a year ago, with her Chinese dance class at the Melody Institute. Her favorite thing about performing in Madama Butterfly so far has been getting to know Ausrine Stundyte, who plays her mother onstage. This summer, Elizabeth is excited to be taking a trip to China, where she was born, and plans to return in time to come to Turandot at Seattle Opera this August.

Elizabeth Janes as Trouble
Elise Bakketun, photo

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