sat 19/10/2019

Madama Butterfly, Royal Opera | reviews, news & interviews

Madama Butterfly, Royal Opera

Madama Butterfly, Royal Opera

Kristine Opolais rescues unforgivably uneventful and noisy production

Katrine Opolais's Butterfly and James Valenti's Pinkerton: Opolais's remarkable debut lifts a pasty-faced productionPhotographs © Mike Hoban/ROH
Directors of Madama Butterfly are spoilt for choice when it comes to visual imagery. At their disposal are the vast aesthetic resources of at least one, or, if they're clever, two great cultural superpowers. Thus, Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier's Ikea-raid from 2003 (quite unbelievably returning to the Royal Opera House last night for a fourth time) isn't so much disappointing as criminally negligent. As the dozen or so identikit Japanese blinds (I'll give them £2.50 for the lot) lower their white screens to the sound of their own electronic humming chorus on Pinkerton's arrival in Nagasaki, all eyes were on debuting Latvian soprano Kristine Opolais. Could she add some colour to this pasty-faced production?
No set this uneventful should make this amount of noise

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Delighted to hear that about Opolais, who was stunning in every way - vocally, dramatically and physically - in Tcherniakov's Berlin production of Prokofiev's The Gambler. And I understand she's soon to become Mrs. Andris Nelsons. But I do think there's one thing to thank this production for: that we get to share in Butterfly's vigil, and night turns to day. One reason I'd never go back to the very flawed Minghella ENO production is that it jammed in an interval after the Humming Chorus. At least here you go straight through.

Having seen Madama Butterfly last night, I can only agree with the comments above. Does the ROH take account of the reviews written and make changes before the next show? Kristine Opolais was stunning...thank goodness....because she lifted this performance from the tragic to the outstanding....despite having started with a cold that day as was announced before the start of the show. James Valenti?? He needed a microphone. Impossible to hear him and I was thankful that we only saw him again in Act III where yes, he did sing much better and one could actually hear why didn't he do that to start with?? And whilst I felt for him when he was booed at curtain call, I remembered how much I had paid for my seat...and felt sorry no more!

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