A Welcome Latonia Moore in Met’s Butterfly

Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, NY; March 2, 2016—Four years ago I attended a Saturday matinee performance of Aida at the Met at which a soprano named Latonia Moore was announced moments before the curtain rose as a replacement for an indisposed colleague. A sturdy, handsome African-American woman, she had every bit the measure of the difficult title role, missing only the occasional pianissimo, but singing with stunning, grand tone and performing with dedication. She brought the house down and then disappeared from Lincoln Center. Disappeared, that is, until Tuesday, March 2, when she took over on a day’s notice for another soprano, in the equally demanding role of Madama Butterfly. Indeed, another victory.

Moore wisely does not attempt to play Cio-Cio-San as a tiny little girl with tiny movements; in contrast, by the second act she appeared to have matured well beyond the character’s announced 18 years—as do most sopranos. But Moore made the audience feel her grief and desperation, and feel her fight with her better judgment to believe that everything would be just fine. And she did so with a voice impressive enough to cut through Puccini’s big orchestra and with great poise, her timing superb, her movements planned for pathos. She fit in beautifully with Anthony Minghella’s gorgeous and touching production.

At her side was the superb Suzuki of Maria Zifchak, and the well-drawn and tonally rich Sharpless of Artur Rucinski. Less effective was Gwyn Hughes Jones as Pinkerton, a stiff actor, albeit with an acceptable tenor voice. Kudos to Karel Mark Chichon who led the Met Orchestra and Chorus in a performance that reached great heights, into true art.

Moore is actually scheduled to sing Aida next season at the Met. Check your schedules.