There's no doubt that Madame Butterfly, deserves its place as one of the most beloved and frequently performed offerings within the operatic canon. The popularity of Puccini's famous tale of love and loss is as much based on the universality of its twin themes of love and loss as it is on its remarkable score.
In fact, the beauty of Madame Butterfly lies in just this strength of plot, which, unlike some other operas, could just as easily exist in a play or novel due to its deep sense of pathos and the complexity of the characters that inhabit its narrative landscape.
Still, there's no doubt that the music is beautiful, and the singers, (specifically mezzo soprano Fiona Campbell, who plays Butterfly's faithful maid, Suzuki) facilitated a gorgeous amalgamation of storyline and song without any of the obvious segues apparent when the singer/actor ratio is unbalanced. There is a real ease about these transitions between song and story that echoes the tragic figure of Madame Butterfly herself.
On a more practical note, His Majesty's Theatre, despite its undeniable Edwardian charm, has a few audio issues which made songs, or parts of songs, more difficult to hear than others depending on the singer's positioning on the stage (regardless of the strength of the their voices).
It certainly wasn't a new take on Madame Butterfly in comparison to other recent productions, and while this might be a sign of Perth's comparatively unadventurous art scene, it was nice to see Madame Butterfly in its original glory. While re-interpretations are great, sometimes the strip-backed beauty of an unaltered classic can transport you to a place that flashy settings and radical transformations can't.
Or maybe I'm just getting old.
West Australian Opera presents
Venue: His Majesty's Theatre
Dates: 23 October - 3 November
Tickets: $27.00 - $154.50