Heart-shaped flowers fall from the sky as Cio-Cio-San, played by Ana María Martínez, and Suzuki, played by Ning Liang, sing their famed flower duet.
Liang played a powerful Suzuki, whether she’s talking with Sharpless or collapsing to her knees when she realizes Butterfly’s plan to kill herself. Even Yun had a memorable moment when he curses Pinkerton for leaving behind Butterfly and begs her to reconsider another marriage proposal.
A crowd-pleaser was Butterfly’s son, Trouble, played by Viktoria Truitt. The child met every single cue, even at one point inspiring an “aww” moment from the audience.
Led by French conductor Philippe Auguin, the orchestra played Puccini’s music beautifully, filling the space. The best moments came when one forgot about reading the subtitles screen above the stage and took in the music with closed eyes. One such time was Martínez’s solo, “Un bel dì.” While it’s to be expected that one of Puccini’s most popular arias would get applause from the audience, the raw emotion from Martínez as well as the swell of music from Auguin’s orchestra created a moment where one became enveloped in sound.
“Madama Butterfly” doesn’t push any theatrical boundaries, but it is still visually and musically breathtaking, the kind of performance that inspires “bravas” from the audience.
The show, at the Kennedy Center, runs through March 19.