[OPERA ~ SA]
Festival Theatre, Sat 16 Nov.
Puccini’s 1904 opera, Madama Butterfly, is set in Nagasaki. B.F. Pinkerton, a lieutenant in the US Navy, buys a house on a hill overlooking the city. Conditions of the sale transfer ownership of the house for 999 years, with the right to cancel each month. Pinkerton also marries a local schoolgirl, 15-year-old Cho-Cho-San, affectionately known as Miss Butterfly. While she believes herself to be in love with him and that he loves her in return, Pinkerton compares his marriage to his house purchase, suggesting it, too, could be annulled whenever it suited him.
Butterfly’s devotion leads her to take Pinkerton’s religion and to give up her own, her culture, and indeed, her family. When Pinkerton ships out, Butterfly waits for his return. And waits. And waits.
Three years pass before her husband’s returns. Sadly, the happy reunion that Butterfly has longed for is not to be. An American Mrs Pinkerton has accompanied her husband and wants to raise Butterfly’s young child (a boy called Sorrow) herself.
But, will Butterfly make what might be called the ultimate maternal sacrifice and give up her son?
State Opera South Australia’s Madama Butterfly is a masterful and powerfully moving interpretation of Puccini’s opera. With simple, elegant sets that could be manipulated to resemble the walls of a traditional Japanese house, offset at times by blocks of colour, the focus is truly on the performers.
Mariana Hong’s performance of Butterfly’s Aria in Act 3 moved more than one audience member to tears. Angus Wood as Pinkerton garnered as many good-natured ‘boos’ while taking his final bows as he did cheers, which is as a tribute to the strong emotions evoked by his character.
Madama Butterfly is an audience favourite, and it’s easy to see why. Just remember to bring plenty of tissues!
Madama Butterfly continues at Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, at various times, until Sun 23 Nov.
Book at BASS on 131 246 and bass.net.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.
Images courtesy of Soda Street Productions