Madama Butterfly | Opera North
Star Rating: 4/5
Madama Butterfly - Bord Gáis Energy Theatre
Review by: David O'Shaughnessy
Opera North debuts two new productions on Irish shores in the newly renamed Bord Gáis Energy Theatre this week, a revival of Puccini's Madama Butterfly taking pride of place with three performances (A new production of Handel's Giulio Cesare makes it's one and only appearance Friday March 16th). This much loved opera, featuring some of the most familiar and beautiful opera music, tells a tale of innocence, love and betrayal between an American naval officer and a 15 year-old girl in mid-20th century Japan, and as with most operas, all does not end well.
Parisian born Anne Sophie Duprels has the honour of playing Cio-Cio-San/Butterfly and gives a truly unique and fresh take on the character, displaying both sides of Cio-Cio-San with deep understanding. By the end of the Act I the audience is enthralled by her, making the ferocity and anguish of the heartbroken and mad Butterfly in Act's II & III all the more emotive. Duprel performs with strength and colour, and brings with her an informed, dark presence. Ann Taylor, playing Cio-Cio-San/Butterfly's maid Suzuki, also deserves credit and is simply stunning, her performance throughout humble yet distinctive, her voice resonating with beautiful clarity.
The orchestra, led by Martin Pickard, handles Puccini's score with both the strength and lightness of touch that it demands, with the "Humming Chorus" and the prelude to Act III carrying the audience through Cio-Cio-San's vigil with deftness and purity. The staging is simple yet highly effective, with a thoughfully conceived set, fluid and minimal and perfectly identifying the locale without ever overwhelming the stage or performers.
As good an introduction to opera as one would find on Irish shores, Opera North's production is one of quality and certainly worthy of an audience. While not as lavish and opulent as other operas, the tone and presence of the company is commanding, and commitment to Puccini's score true. However lacking in spectacle it may be, Opera North's Madama Butterfly proves that contemporary approaches to opera can remain engaging and fresh while respecting their origins, and is a thoroughly enjoyable nights entertainment.
Madama Butterfly plays Thursday March 15th and Saturday March 17th, while Giulio Cesare plays on Friday March 16th. Tickets priced from €30 (Madama Butterfly) & €20 (Giulio Cesare).
Story by EI Team | 09:00 | Thursday 15th March 2012 | Theatre
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