Sunday, September 18, 2005

A Trip to the Opera

Lincoln Centre

We went to the opera, l'amie and I. Mon amie (see? I learnt a new permutation! :) geniusly found us $16 student rush tickets, and the seats were decent too.

In Madame Butterfly, east meets west. A callous American lieutenant marries a young Japanese girl (Butterfly), only to leave her. He comes back three years later with his American wife, only to find that he has a child. Madame Butterfly loves him desperately and has been waiting for him all this while. She is shattered when she realises that he has abandoned her. He feels deep remorse but it is now too late. He wishes to take the child back to America to give him a better life. She agrees to let to child go with him. When he comes for the child, she commits ritual suicide.

SHE sat quite still, and waited till night fell. She had a sword in her lap.

Butterfly [softly reading the words inscribed on it]
Death with honour is better than life with dishonour.

[points the knife sideways at her throat]

[The door on the left opens, showing Suzuki's arm pushing the child towards his mother: he runs in with outstretched hands. Butterfly lets the dagger fall, darts toward the baby, and hugs and kisses him almost to suffocation.]

You? you?
Beloved Idol!
Ador'd, adorèd being,
Fairest flower of beauty.
[taking the child's head in her hands, she draws it to her]
Though you ne'er must know it
Tis for you, my love, for you I'm dying, Poor Butterfly
That you may go away
Beyond the ocean,
Never to feel the torment when you are older,
That your mother forsook you!

[exaltedly] My son, sent to me from Heaven,
Straight from the throne of glory,
Take one last and careful look
At your poor mother's face!
That it's memory may linger
One last look!
Farewell, beloved!
Farewell, my dearest heart!

I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. It reminded me also of the ending of Miss Saigon (my favourite musical ever), where the sacrifice of the Vietnamese mother is clearer - her erstwhile lover proposes to support her and the child financially in Vietnam, but she kills herself so that he and his wife have no choice but to take the child back to America, where he will have a better life.

For there is no love greater than this - giving yourself up for another, dying so that those you love, may live.

God is love. - 1 John 4:16

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