Puccini’s Madama Butterfly (An Ellen Kent Production)
New Theatre, Oxford
Reviewed by Jade Prince
Seen January 25th, 2020
This was stunning. An easy 5 stars!
This was the second night of Ellen Kent’s opera productions at New Theatre in Oxford and I thought I’d enjoy La Bohème more. I was very wrong. La Bohème was enjoyable but Madama Butterfly took my initial thoughts of Ellen Kent’s productions to another level.
Another romantic opera set in the heart of Japan, tells the story of a young Japanese woman who falls in love with a visiting American lieutenant. It’s a heart-breaking romance.
Having seen another Ellen Kent production the night prior, it was clear to see that this production got the bigger budget and more attention. It all worked so wonderfully on stage. The initial teething problems with sound from night one had gone. It was obviously the warm up for this spectacular piece.
It was magical hearing the orchestra in all its glory. The music just radiated through you and sent chills down your spine. But then to have that accompanied by the vocals of the talented cast just heightened the whole experience. That was the vibe I expected from an opera. The cast were not holding back. They really gave their all and the outcome was beautiful.
The emotion was raw. Elena Dee was mesmerising as Cio-Cio San. I’ve heard she’s been working on perfecting her role at the end of the show (no spoilers from me! but you probably know where it’s going) and I have to say…I was blown away. It was so moving. Not only the acting but the pain portrayed in her voice.
I adore how poetic the lyrics are. Being able to read the surtitles was great. As we’re talking about the surtitles, I really enjoyed the variation in speed that people were reading them. There are some point which are quiet funny and some people in the audience were a lot quicker at reading them than others resulting in an echo of chuckles. It just made me realise that everybody was getting their own unique experience. It hit home how subjective opera can be and moves people in different ways.
I can definitely see why this production of Madama Butterfly won the ‘best opera award’ from Liverpool Daily Post Theatre awards. Just like a butterfly, Madama Butterfly was splendid to watch.
The same as La Bohème, Madama Butterfly has just began its tour of the UK with many more dates seeing it through until April 2020. Personally, I highly recommend this piece. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole show.
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