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Madama Butterfly to flutter in 3D

RealD and London's Royal Opera House will produce and film a production of "Madama Butterfly" for a 2012 release in RealD 3D-equipped theaters around the world.

Royal Opera House
London's Royal Opera House Royal Opera House

If you can't make it to London this summer, you can fake it with a 3D virtual visit to the Royal Opera House's production of "Madama Butterfly."

RealD, the 3D technology developer, will team up with one of opera's greatest venues and production companies to film the Puccini masterpiece in 3D for release in RealD 3D-equipped theaters.

The obvious challenge here is to get a decent-size moviegoing audience to care about the technology-rich extravaganza.

Don't shoot the singing-telegram messenger, but the truth is the average moviegoer isn't going to rush out to two-plus hours of opera regardless of how legitimately cool the technology that captures it. If they find opera stuffy and pretentious under normal entertainment circumstances, the advanced filming techniques will only render that tedium in unsurpassed depth and detail.

Thus, the challenge falls on the veterans at the Royal Opera House and the crew at RealD to market the production in the most creative way possible.

Fortunately, this isn't RealD's first rodeo when it comes to blending classic arts with modern technology. This effort is a follow-up to the companies' co-production of "Carmen" in 3D, the first opera filmed and distributed in 3D. The Royal Opera House rendition of "Madama Butterfly" will be recorded during live performances in July and released in 2012.

"Madama Butterfly" is the story of a "Japanese geisha's unwavering love for an American naval officer...whose thoughtless toying with her devotion is the catalyst for this timeless tragic story," according to the opera house's Web site. Its most recent pop culture translation--and how most West End and Broadway theater fans might identify with the story--was the hit 1990s musical "Miss Saigon."