‘One fine day indeed’: Madama Butterfly stage provides set for real life wedding

Save articles for later

Add articles to your saved list and come back to them any time.

When Opera Australia’s head of music Tahu Matheson proposed to his colleague, OA’s senior producer Ruth Thomas in 2019 at Uluru, given their combined love of opera, he knew wherever their wedding took place it would be dramatic.

“We imagined we’d get married in a fairly low-key affair in the back garden with our kids and family and combine it with my 50th birthday celebrations,” said Thomas.

When COVID postponed the ceremony, a few years later Thomas was sitting in a marketing meeting for her current production, Madama Butterfly’s Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour, when she had a brilliant idea: a wedding on the opera stage in the harbour. HER wedding.

Senior producer at Opera Australia, Ruth Thomas, descends via a crane to marry Tahu Williams, musical director, on the Madama Butterfly stage on Sunday.Credit: Nikki Short

In Madama Butterfly, Cio-Cio San, a young geisha marries American Lieutenant B.F. Pinkerton, an officer in the US.Navy, at the end of the first act.

Senior producer at Opera Australia, Ruth Thomas, prepares backstage for her wedding.Credit: Nikki Short

Sydneysiders across the city have no doubt heard the fireworks each night after the wedding scene at 8pm since the opera opened on March 24.

“I thought the scene is already set for a wedding so what a perfect place to get married,” said Thomas.

“The only thing we needed to get rid of was the red curtain, so we could have a view of the Sydney Opera House, where we met.”

So instead of a backyard in Rockdale, the couple tied the knot in front of 80 friends and family on the floating stage anchored off the Botanical Gardens, a little after 2pm on Sunday just as the sun broke from behind the clouds (yes, the bride was traditionally a little late).

While 2-metre tall Matheson, who is 1/16th Maori, was expecting a dramatic setting, with the stunning backdrop of the harbour, Opera House and Harbour Bridge, he wasn’t expecting the bride and her entourage to arrive by crane, which is part of the show’s set.

The crane’s cage, garlanded with flowers and fabric and carrying the bride and her three bridesmaids, was hoisted up above the wedding party, then lowered at the foot of the gobsmacked groom.

Senior producer at Opera Australia, Ruth Thomas, married head of music Tahu Matheson on the Madama Butterfly stage on Sunday.Credit: Nikki Short

“I’d arranged some soft, elegant slow music, Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll for her to walk down the aisle to…and suddenly the dramatic March of the Valkyries from the ring cycle starts playing and I see her hovering above us in a crane, I was shocked,” said Matheson.

“It was pretty windy up there we all got a bit giggly and nervous,” said Thomas of her surprise dramatic entry.

The crowd applauded. Even the passing party boats, ferries and helicopters appreciated the scene.

“One fine day, indeed,” said the celebrant Ruby Fraser, referring to the best known Madama Butterfly aria, written by Giacomo Puccini in 1904.

After a reading of Barbra Streisand’s Evergreen lyrics, the two exchanged vows and had a group photo.

Guests raised their flutes of champagne in toasts as opera singer Andrew Moran sang three songs by Franz Schubert.

The wedding cake was made by The Song Company director Francis Greep and the bride and groom returned to party on with their guests in Rockdale.

The bridal party is lowered onto the Opera Australia set of the Madama Butterfly on Sunday.Credit: Nikki Short

While this is Opera Australia’s first real life onstage wedding, romantic opera lovers can propose on stage, either outdoor or in the Sydney Opera House, to the tune of $2499, through its amazing experiences program.

Meanwhile, Madama Butterfly continues until next Sunday, April 23.

The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here.

Most Viewed in Culture

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article