Opera Australia has opened its Melbourne season with one of the company’s best-loved productions, Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly – in this case the revival of Moffatt Oxenbould’s 1997 production of the famed tragic story of Cio-Cio-San (cio translates to butterfly) and her American husband.
Soprano Hiromi Omura dominated the night, and was superb in her role of Butterfly. Besides possessing a beautiful and silken voice, Omura also successfully projects a naiveté and demureness of a young girl in love, as well as that of a woman consumed by total despair at the understanding that her husband intends not to return to her.
Tenor James Egglestone portrays her husband, Pinkerton, as lustful, selfish and even arrogant, but he also conveys a somewhat regretful concern for Butterfly as well. Just when you thought you could hate him, you almost feel sorry for him.
Mezzo-soprano, Sian Pendry complimented Omura’s voice incredibly well, and depicted Suzukibas as a compassionate and caring friend during Butterfly’s overwhelming journey and despair.
The production is the result of a three-year collaboration, with the skills of set and costume designers Peter England and Russell Cohen. Inspiration for the production’s design was drawn on the traditions of Kabuki, Noh and Bunraku theatre, with the single set consisting of sliding panels and several platforms across shallow pools of water, dotted by floating flowers.
The emotionally laden Madama Butterfly captivated the audience on the night I attended. It is an absolutely beautiful production to watch and listen to, and remarkably, it is easily enjoyed by a novice to the artform, as well as the seasoned opera goers.
Opera Australia presents presents
Venue: Arts Centre Melbourne
Dates: 4 – 30 May 2015
Tickets: $255 – $49