Review: Madam Butterfly, Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham
CONGRATULATIONS to the National Academic Bolsoi Theatre of Belarus for an honest performance of Puccini's Madam Butterfly.
For their only performance of this opera in Cheltenham they attracted a full house, people travelling many miles to be stirred by Puccini's music in this tragic story of love betrayed.
The stage sets were interesting enough to engage our attention, and could be recognised as 'Japanese'.
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There were no gimmicks and we did not have to ask what the significance of something was.
Similary stage movement and costumes were appropriate and the singers avoided current operatic fashion by singing straight out to the audience.
The conductor showed in-depth understanding of the score by pacing the action so that emotional highs and lows were well contrasted and the tension in Act 2 was noteworthy.
Although not a full-sized opera orchestra they gave plenty of support to the singers, although the brass was a little strident in places. The singers all portrayed their characters convincingly and drew us into the drama.
It was a pity that Marina Alesentsova as Suzuki had little to sing, as she had a voice of warmth and sincerity.
The translation panel with large glowing letters just above the orchestra pit was somewhat distracting, but if it helps people to understand opera and want to repeat the experience, it has to be accepted. Overall this was a worthwhile performance put over with sincerity and musicianship.