I’ve been trying music of various sorts and have just listened to one of my favourites which is Un Bel de Vedrema sung by Monserrat Caballe. I’ve seen the opera three times. All were wonderful but the first time was especially wonderful…. It was a production by the English National Opera with Susan Bullock as Cio Cio San.
I don’t know if you know the story.
Cio-Cio-San – Butterly is a 15 year old Geisha in a temporary marriage to an American sailor. She believes the marriage was real and forever, she gives up her family and her religion for him. He was more of a sex tourist. The poor woman has been waiting three years for Pinkerton to return . He has stopped sending money but Butterfly remains convinced that Pinkerton will return. Her maid Suzuki tries to make her see reality but has no luck. Butterfly sings this aria about what will happen when he returns. One fine day. She’s oblivious to the truth.
At the end of Act 2 she has seen Pinkerton’s ship in the harbour and thinking he has come back for her she settles down to wait for him. In this production the curtain didn’t fall. Cio Cio San, her (and Pinkerton’s) son and her maid Suzuki wait all night for Pinkerton to come. Cio Cio San doesn’t sleep and we waited with her, we watched the sun go down, we held that vigil with her and we watched the sun rise.
Pinkerton has come back but with his American wife, and to take his son away. Once Butterfly realises the truth she says she will give the child to Pinkerton if he comes to collect the child himself. Butterly kills herself with the dagger her father used to kill himself.
At the end of the opera you could see the exhaustion in Susan Bullock, the effort in singing such an intense role. Ruddy marvellous.
I always cry when I hear this aria, and this time with more reason. It sends shivers up and down your spine and gets into your soul. I’ve chosen the Montserrat Caballe version to post after playing a few of them. You can imagine the Kleenex count. I have been to a recital by Montserrat Caballe and her voice moved me then as it does here.
With apologies to those of you who can’t hear, I know how frustrating it can be but I just wanted to share my joy at being able to hear this music again.