Monday, August 21, 2017

The 'Sorrow' girls bring joy to Seattle Opera

Twins Scarlett (left) and Hazel (right) Del Rosario pose backstage with soprano Yasko Sato (Cio-Cio-San). The 7-year-old sisters alternated as Sorrow, Butterfly's child. Photo by Renee Rapier. 

By Lauren Brigolin 
Those who saw Madame Butterfly twice may have had the opportunity to experience dramatic performances by two sets of sopranos and tenors. But there was another another character who was double-cast—the child of Cio-Cio-San and Pinkerton’s doomed romance. In Seattle Opera’s recent production, this role of “Sorrow” was played by 7-year-old fraternal twins: Scarlett and Hazel del Rosario. The sisters shared the same black wig for their performances, which allowed them to transform into Butterfly’s little boy. 

The twins getting a fitting for the wig they shared for the role of Sorrow. Photo by Liesl Gatcheco. 
While the girls had performed in school plays, Butterfly was the first professional production they’ve been in together. The experience has clearly been one to remember; the girls practically explode with energy and excitement in describing their summer with the opera.

“It was amazing,” says Scarlett, who performed with soprano Lianna Haroutounian. Hazel, whose favorite part was being spun in the air by “mom” Yasko Sato adds: “So fun! Once I got off the stage I screamed, ‘fun!’”

The girls’ father, DJ del Rosario, says each twin had their own take on the role—much of the blocking onstage came from their own impulses. For example, the girls got to choose whether they wanted to hug Pinkerton or Sharpless.
Scarlett in costume as Sorrow with her sister, Hazel, backstage. 
It helped to have a cast and creative team who were so welcoming.

“Maestro (Carlo Montanaro) gave the girls an an opportunity to bow, something we didn't expect and have really been touched by. This is definitely their professional debut," DJ says.

Of course, learning the ropes of performing in an opera took some getting used to. Speaking about the rehearsal process, Hazel says, “I was trying to pretend there was an audience there. It was kind of scary.”

Hazel del Rosario (Sorrow) and Yasko Sato (Cio-Cio-San). Philip Newton photo
Scarlett also says she felt nervous backstage, not always being sure what to do. But then she discovered there was always someone on the cast or crew who was there to help her. After going through the entire process, it was clear that the girls are naturals—devotedly clinging to an anguished Cio-Cio-San, sweetly looking upon their caretaker, Suzuki.

“My favorite part has been to watch their confidence grow. To watch them feel the energy of McCaw filled. To watch them really perform and be in the moment,” DJ says.

Of course, having one’s children commit to being in Madame Butterfly was no small matter. With numerous rehearsals and eight performances, it represented a commitment for the entire family.

And yet, according to DJ: "It’s really worth the time. We rearranged a lot of our lives for this and we’re really happy we did it."
Lianna Haroutounian (Cio-Cio-San) and Scarlett del Rosario (Sorrow). Philip Newton photo