FGO’s second-cast “Butterfly” singers prove well matched

By Dorothy Hindman

Vanessa Isiguen and John Pickle sing in FGO's second-cast performance of Puccini's "Madama Butterfly."

Vanessa Isiguen and John Pickle sing in FGO’s second-cast performance of Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly.”  Photo: FGO

Florida Grand Opera’s second cast of principals in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly featured two singers in their company debuts. Heard Sunday afternoon, the performance flowed equally well.

Vanessa Isiguen’s Butterfly is more timid, traditional, and respectful than Kelly Kaduce’s playfully spirited portrayal. The FGO Young Artist conveyed a girlish vulnerability, and her voice is more uniform across all ranges although less varied in color. A slight vocal darkening for Act II, however, was a nice touch, indicating Butterfly’s aging.

As Pinkerton, John Pickle’s tenor is likewise strong if higher and more penetrating than Martin Nusspaumer in the first cast. Dramatically, Pickle’s Pinkerton is older, stockier and less likable, garnering the traditional hearty boos as well as cheers at the curtain.

Still, the two singers were well matched in vocal color, their high notes thrilling in the love duet. With the same staging, the differences in portrayals are subtle, but have nearly the same dramatic impact as the first cast.

In Sunday’s matinee, Caitlin McKechney as Suzuki was in much better voice, emerging as an equal to the principals and bringing vocal as well as dramatic depth to Suzuki’s devotion to her mistress.

Madama Butterfly continues through November 22 at the Arsht Center and December 4 and 6 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale. Vanessa Isiguen sings the role of Butterfly Nov. 21 and Dec. 6 and John Pickle sings Pinkerton Nov. 18 and 21. fgo.org; 800-741-1010.

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Mon Nov 17, 2014
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