it’s rare for smaller regional towns to attract major opera companies. However, next month there’s an opportunity to see a Russian State Opera production of Puccini’s Madam Butterfly close to home.
For those giving opera a chance for the first time, Madam Butterfly offers colourful costumes and sets along with an emotional score played by a live 30-piece orchestra.
Madam Butterfly, first performed in 1904 and much revised by Puccini, tells the tragic love story of a young Japanese girl, Cio Cio San, who marries an American naval officer, Pinkerton, stationed in Nagasaki. In doing so she defies the will of her family.
When her husband returns to the US, Cio Cio San (Cio Cio is Japanese for butterfly) gives birth to their son and waits anxiously for Pinkerton to return, only to discover that he has married again, this time to an American woman. Grief and dishonour mean there is only one way out for Madam Butterfly and, in true tragic opera style, she kills herself.
The opera was based on the 1898 story by John Luther Long that tells of self-sacrifice and what happens when two cultures clash.
It was said to be Puccini’s favourite work and features a number of well-known arias – from One Fine Day and Love Duet to the Humming Chorus.
Performed in Italian, with English subtitles, the Russian State Opera production is one of two touring operas by the company that will be seen in English theatres this year.
Ticket details are available from 01422 351158.