She paced herself very well for the first time out, though you wished she could have dispensed with the music stand and let herself move. Occasionally, too, she forgot that a soprano in this role must be as ruthlessly calculating as an IRS auditor - yet never show it. At moments when she got carried away, her jaw waggled, her tone destabilized, and a couple of high notes were not as secure as she knows how to make them. But in her honesty, imagination, and investment, she was infinitely superior to the last Butterfly I saw at the Met (a large Russian lady who sang in Esperanto and fired off high notes like a cannon, and with about as much feeling).
The Newton Symphony's music director, Jeffrey Rink, assembled a strong supporting cast. Tenor Benjamin Warschawski, the caddish Lieutenant Pinkerton, has been singing at the New York City Opera, and he's a real find. He's got a dark, burnished, secure voice; taste; passion; and even an interest in acting. Baritone David Murray was a solid tower of strength as the conscience-stricken US Consul Sharpless; what a good singer and crafty actor he is. As the faithful maid Suzuki, Susan Forrester began with quavering tones but sang herself into voice by the time the chips were down in the last act.
Rink assigned the smaller roles to members of the new generation
of locally based singers. Outstanding for vocal gift was bass
David Cushing as the
Imperial Commissioner; tenor Vince Wolfsteiner also brought a better
voice to the marriage broker Goro than we usually hear. Other
performances came from Dana Whiteside as Prince Yamadori and Carol
Mastrodomenico as Kate Pinkerton. The Newton Choral Society sounded
entrance floating over our heads from the back of the sold-out auditorium.