Edinburgh Playhouse (28th March)

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall (1st April)

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Edinburgh Reviewer : Spud

As the seats filled up and the anticipation grow it was nearly time for epic that is Ellen Kent’s Madame Butterfly…  As the lights dimed and the curtain rolled up, it was apparent that this show was going to be a stunner…  The set design, costumes and production were beautiful, colourful and attractive to the eye.  Song in Italian, the show opens to a wonderful response from the audience.  From the moment of the first note that was song, we were captivated into what was a story of love and betrayal ..  The finesse of Opera was certainly apparent in the opening scene . Beautifully delivered the show got under way with the American sailor singing his love for Madame Butterfly, then came Madame Butterfly herself. With a voice that could melt butter, I was ultimately stunned !!!  For the next hour the story unfolded through dramatic scenes and powerful singing, while the set design pulled you into what was the experience  of Japan.  The colours and attention to the costumes was inspiring. One of the best set productions I have seen.

As the show goes on (2 hrs and 40 mins), the love story grows. As with most long distant  relationships the cracks start to show. With Madame Butterfly now with child she awaits the arrival of her love. Many years pass and many offers of marriage refused , she waits in anticipation for the American Sailor .  Finally he arrives and delivers his message” in fine voice”, not a message of love but a message of betrayal . With a new wife on his arm Madame Butterfly is saddened to the point of suicide . This scene was most enthralling, sung with depth and passion I was nearly in tears, you could feel her pain..  Her love was so strong for him it ultimately became her death sentence!!!  A show that I had wanted to see for many years did not disappoint .  You could see that so much time and skill had been put into this production, which made sure the audience were fully involved with the characters, allowing them to feel part of something special ….  Truly beautiful and heart warming this is a show not to be missed. If you must see one Opera in your life make it Madame Butterfly, you wont be disappointed !!!! Well done to all the cast and production team……

 

Glasgow Reviewer : Teri Welsh

‘A stunning production of a timeless love story displaying in all its tragedy the devastating heart break of true love unrequited.

This exquisite production of Pucini’s tragedy, Madama Butterfly, unfolds over three acts the heart-wrenching love story between a young Japanese geisha and an American naval Lieutenant. Celebrating Ellen Kent’s 23rd year in award winning opera, this production is delivered with effortless operatic flare and is complimented with stunning stage design and costume. Based on a short story by John Luther Long, and first performed in Milan in 1904, Kent presents the tragic tale of the marriage of a young and naive Japanese girl, Cio-Cio-San to her cold-hearted American lover Lieutenant Pinkerton. Bought up as a geisha, she falls madly in love with her hero, in a naïve, trusting and innocent manner indicative of the child she is. Her love is true and absolute, sacrificing even her Japanese traditions, and being ostracised by her family to follow his customs. However the arrogant Lieutenant holds no such long term devotion and sees their love as only a transient moment, with dire consequences. When he returns from America three years later with his new wife, with only the intention of taking their son away from her, she is so utterly heartbroken, she can only find solace in killing herself.

The talented Korean soprano, Elena Dee plays a convincing lead role as the young geisha, whose soft, whimsical and girlish tones of her teenage naivety during the first act become altogether more powerful, obstinate and absolute as she awaits her husband’s return in the second, and finally performs with outstanding tragic dignity and heart wrenching sadness in the final act. Perhaps her tall stature, towering above the rest of the cast may make her initial childlike entrance a little unconvincing but she comes into her own in the latter acts, as an obstinate and despairing adult. Russian tenor Giorgi Meladze performs well, playing the cold and selfish Lieutenant Pinkerton with strong and defying tones, but perhaps the highlight performance was baratone Vladimir Dragos, playing the part of Sharpless, the Lieutenant’s consul. His effortless voice was evocative, powerful and emotional and his stage presence charismatic, indeed, a delight to watch.

The Chisinau National Opera and Philharmonic orchestra produced a perfect backdrop to the vocal performance, soft and delicate in the first act and building to stunning crescendos to compliment the dramatic operatic tones of the lover’s duet in the second. And adding to the sensory delight of the evening a rich and raw colour spectrum splashed throughout, with stage design set lavishly in a Japanese garden and garnished with the mesmerising and intrinsically radiance of the colourful and exquisite kimono.  Kent further manages to convey the question of sexual and cultural exploitation whilst cleverly remaining resolute on the depiction of a tragic love story, interluded in the darkest moments with satirical comedy. A fine production from this award winning and celebrated producer.

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