Madam Butterfly, WNO, Wales Millennium Centre

February 12, 2017 by

I have seen this production of Madame Butterfly many times and yet each time it manages to be just that little bit different.

This is because while the show stays pretty much the same, the singers bring their own personality, their own physical look and, of course, voice to the roles

It depends so much on Madame Butterfly and in Karah Son we have a Butterfly that not only looks the part but sings beautifully and tragically.

There can’t be many regular opera-goers in South Wales that have not seen this production – I first saw it back in the New Theatre, Cardiff, days – but its traditional setting of the opera is timeless so while it probably is time for a new take on the classic this show still works very well. Other productions have  said sayonara and been replaced with far inferior takes, so perhaps it is a good idea to keep this effective take in the repertoire.

Perhaps the visual theme of the production, old sepia colouration reminiscent of old photographs as taken by Pinkerton when he first arrives in exotic Japan, means it always felt a little faded and so doesn’t age.

But then through the sepia look the bright tones of Karah Son breathes a new life into the evening, especially when coupled with the strong singing of Rebecca Afonwy-Jones as Suzuki, and driven along with Lawrence Foster’s conducting

Poor old Pinkerton must be one of the most thankless roles in opera, and here had panto boos, but Jonathan Burton dealt with the issue with great charm and as a result finally got the acknowledgement for his fine performance of Pinkerton.

David Kempster was masterful and secure as Sharpless as he always is.

Kate Pinkerton is a small role but is a crucial one as it tells us so much about what the future holds for poor Trouble – I suspect he will have a fairly no-nonsense upbringing in the care of this Kate sung by Sian Meinir.

Trouble seemed to have grown a lot in three years – a future American quarterback perhaps.


Touring  until June 30

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