Tenor Franco Martorana will perform the role of B.F. Pinkerton in the Village Player’s production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly which opens on Friday June 8 and runs through Sunday June 24. Franco first sang the role more than twenty years ago.

I asked him whether he approached the role differently today. Franco said that he now sings with better technique but also has a better understanding of the story. He said that “you can’t perform this role once or twice and know Pinkerton. ”

Franco mentioned soprano Brigit Nilsson, who once said that she had performed the role of Isolde in Tristan and Isolde over eighty-five times but still did not fully know the character.

As for Pinkerton, Franco describes him as “a guy with lots of money. He lives day to day. Nothing phases him.”

Pinkerton is one of the great cads in opera, so I asked Franco if he thought Pinkerton was evil.

Franco thought that Pinkerton is not. Instead, Franco describes him as in a long tradition of sailors who call at a port looking for love, only to leave a short time later. Franco notes that Pinkerton describes himself as a “vagabondo.”

Franco said that in Act I, Pinkerton “is in his little world.” He wants to have fun with Butterfly and if he needs to break up, he will do so.

By Act III , Pinkerton is changed. He has married an American and knows that he has a son by Butterfly.

By the end of the opera, Franco sees Pinkerton as “embarrassed and hurt that he abandoned his son. “

But what about Butterfly? I asked if Franco sees Pinkerton as still loving her at the end of the opera.

Franco says that Pinkerton feels regrets. Pinkerton knows he was wrong in how he treated Butterfly, but Franco believes it is an open question whether Pinkerton loves her at the end. “Could be yes. Could be no.”

I asked Franco whether it is different singing Verdi or Puccini roles. Franco knows both well, having performed Alfredo in La Traviata last summer at Village Players.

Franco said that “Verdi wrote for the voice and knows exactly how singers work. Puccini didn’t.”

He explained that Verdi’s vowels are always perfect for the particular notes.

“Singing Puccini is more complex, like a tapestry. He did not always write for singers to sing comfortably. “

On the other hand, Puccini is focused on the story and the drama more than Verdi. In some ways, his music is more powerful. Franco said that “Puccini grabs your soul. Through the music Puccini tells you ‘now laugh, now cry, now be happy.'”

As a model for Pinkerton, Franco believes no one has performed the role better than Placido Domingo, although he also enjoys listening to Carlo Bergonzi recordings. He says that Domingo’s acting is flawless.

Opening night is around the corner. For ticket information visit village-players.org or call (866)764-1010.

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