La Cieca has her old, old, old friend Enzo Bordello (pictured, left) to thank for this week’s canard, or rather, carnards, as Enzo has delivered a delicious brace of blunders.
First misconception: “Violetta’s joyful cabaletta ‘Sempre libera’.” There is nothing joyous about what she is expressing. It is a death wish to annihilate herself through hard living. The manic character of the music is ironic, not literal.
And canard the second: Cio-Cio-San kills herself “because of a broken heart” or as an act of manipulation to make Pinkerton feel bad. No, she kills herself as an act of self-effacement to eradicate any trace of her son’s ties to Japan, so that he can acculturate neatly and easily into his new life in America, freed of the stigma of being viewed as a biracial bastard. And the usual reply to this is: “Well, how can that be? He must look Asian.” Well, no. Puccini and his librettist are explicit about the boy’s blonde hair and blue eyes. Genetically improbable, perhaps, but there it is.