‘Madama Butterfly and Miss Saigon’ at YAA and MCYO at The Music Center at Strathmore by Miriam Urquhart

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The heat was truly on in Saigon at The Music Center at Strathmore on Sunday, March 10, 2013, at Madama Butterfly and Miss Saigon – a spectacular joint-production between Young Artists of America and Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras, directed by Alan Paul.

The concert featured 130 musicians, singers, and soloists, including three professional opera singers who sang the leads in Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly: Kay Krekow (Butterfly), Harry Dunstan (B.F. Pinkerton), and Timothy Mix (Sharpless). Thanks to the overwhelmingly talented musicians,conducted by Kristofer Sanz, the show flawlessly seamed together the scores and stories. The staging included scenes from both works and at some points were shown side-by-side to create many dynamic, powerful moments.

Timothy Mix (Sharpless) and Kay Krekow (Butterfly). Photo by Michelle Drumheller.

Timothy Mix (Sharpless) and Kay Krekow (Butterfly). Photo by Michelle Drumheller.

The young soloists who sang the lead roles in Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil, and Richard Maltby, Jr.’s musical Miss Saigon contributed to many of the highlights. Chani Wereley was spot-on as the tragic Kim. With the use of her strong, clear voice, she was able to give the role a complete transition from shy and timid to brave and bold. One moment where she shined in particular was during “I Know I’d Give My Life for You.” Werely’s performance showed the struggle Kim had in making the ultimate sacrifice to leave her son, and it was quite heartbreaking.
Chani Werely (Kim) and Eitan Mazia (Chris). Photo by Michelle Drumheller.

Chani Werely (Kim) and Eitan Mazia (Chris). Photo by Michelle Drumheller.

Eitan Mazia was superb as Chris Scott. Mazia’s voice is insanely mature for his age and he did a fantastic job showing Chris’ internal frustration with himself and his fear for Kim’s life. His vocals on “Why, God, Why?” were powerful and beautiful, and his gorgeous duet with Werely on “Sun and Moon” featured some wonderful harmonies. Mazia and Werely showed great chemistry all through the production.

Adam Settlage sounded like a rock star in the role of John. His solo in the number “Bui-Doi” led up to a huge pop-rock belt at the end which he executed perfectly. Nicole Sergeyko managed to bring out the shock and frustration in the role of Chris’ American wife Ellen. Her choices for the character were bold and worked well, especially during the emotional duet “I Still Believe” sung with Werely. Gillian Han also stood out as the irresistible Gigi Van Trahn. She gave the role lots of spunk and heart, and she lent some fine vocals on “The Movie in My Mind.”

Conductor Kristofer Sanz and the orchestra. Photo by Michelle Drumheller.

Conductor Kristofer Sanz and the orchestra. Photo by Michelle Drumheller.

For the most part, the three professional guest soloists were quite enjoyable. Kay Krekow hit every note beautifully as Butterfly. Her acting was strong and her voice fluttered through the concert hall like the real Butterfly, especially during her rendition of “Un bel dì.” Timothy Mix’s voice was clear and rich, and although Harry Dunstan’s acting choices as Pinkerton were ardent and distinct, at times, his vocals were strained.

The vibrant red, yellow, and blue lighting added to the intense, heartfelt atmosphere in the concert hall. Director Alan Paul’s staging helped show many parallels between both the musical and opera, especially at the end of the concert when Butterfly and Kim both take their own lives.

Madama Butterfly and Miss Saigon was a powerful, creative, and beautifully performed production. Special kudos to the extraordinary musicians and to Kristofer Sanz, and to the soloists. I look forward to another joint YAA and MCYO production in the future.

Madama Butterfly and Miss Saigon played for one performance only on March 10th, 2013 at The Music Center at Strathmore – 5301 Tuckerman Lane, in North Bethesda, MD. For future Strathmore events go to their website, or call the box office at (301) 581-5100.
The cast of 'Madama Butterfly and Miss Saigon' at Strathmore March 10, 2013. Photo by Michelle Drumheller.

The cast of ‘Madama Butterfly and Miss Saigon’ at Strathmore March 10, 2013. Photo by Michelle Drumheller.

LINKS
Meet The Student Vocal Soloists of YAA & MCYO’s ‘Madama Butterly & Miss Saigon’ on 3/10/13@4 @ Strathmore by Joel Markowitz.

Meet The Guest Soloists of YAA & MCYO’s ‘Madama Butterly & Miss Saigon’ on 3/10/13@4 at Strathmore by Rolando Sanz.

Rolando & Kristofer Sanz on Young Artists of America’s Concert: ‘Madama Butterfly & Miss Saigon’ on 3/10/13@4.

Kristofer Sanz on on Conducting YAA & MCYO’s ‘Madama Butterfly & Miss Saigon.’

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