Tragic opera from the east was sheer delight

ITALIAN master Puccini’s classic opera Madama Butterfly has been delighting audiences for more than 100 years – ever since its tentative debut at Milan’s La Scala opera house.

This latest version from acclaimed producer Ellen Kent and the renowned Ukranian National Opera did not disappoint.

The audience at Grimsby Auditorium was treated to a magnificent performance of the classic tragedy of juxtaposing Western and Oriental values. Young Korean soprano Elena Dee shone in the lead role as Cio-Cio San (Madama Butterfly), displaying a passionate and beautiful voice that soared through the auditorium from the first note to the last.

This is a demanding role for any soprano to take on due to the huge amount of stage time, but Elena Dee rose to the challenge brilliantly, receiving a spontaneous applause for her rendition of the opera’s most famous aria Un Bel Di (One Fine Day).

In the lead male role as Butterfly’s selfish and unfeeling husband Lt Pinkerton, Ruslan Zinevych settled into the role well after some early jitters. Other notable performances came from Vladimir Dragos as the kind but helpless US consul and Viktoriia Zhytkova as Butterfly’s devoted servant Suzuki.

The music, from conductor Gheorghe Stanciu and his highly-accomplished orchestra, was exemplary from start to finish. This was best shown in an emotional and beautiful playing of the famous Humming Chorus.

Puccini’s great tragedy tells the story of a young Japanese girl – Butterfly – from Nagasaki who falls hopelessly in love with visiting US Naval Officer Lt Pinkerton.

The two are soon married, but the whole affair is nothing but a quick thrill for Pinkerton whilst Butterfly is so devoted to the marriage she ignores her family’s warnings and disowns her traditions to be with Pinkerton.

Pinkerton soon leaves, promising to return, but three years later is still absent. Butterfly reveals a son, fathered by Pinkerton, and sings of her unshakeable optimism that her true love will return.

Eventually Pinkerton’s ship is sighted in the harbour and he turns up at Butterfly’s house with his new American wife – only to find Butterfly and the child sleeping. As Butterfly awakes and realises Pinkerton’s betrayal, she is distraught and takes her own life.

This was a truly accomplished and entertaining performance of the classic opera and was a true treat for our area.