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Butterfly sat on stage in silence for 14 minutes, while subtle shifts of light illustrated the passage from dusk to dawn.
What makes this three-minute chorus so enchanting? There’s its musical beauty, but also its sense of calm, such a contrast to the passion of Act II.
The unusual scoring of the chorus creates a striking contrast with its surroundings. Staccato flutes and muted, pianissimo pizzicato strings accompany the chorus of sopranos and tenors as they hum a long, arching melody in octaves. This melody, a rare example of an operatic vocalise (wordless song), is doubled by solo viola d’amore – an archaic instrument with a distinct sound, used only this once in the opera.
Thanks to Warren Rinehart for making this discovery possible for me. Tags Royal Opera Cio-Cio-San’s vigil David Belasco