Opera Scotland

Madam Butterfly 2013Opera Bohemia

Read more about the opera Madama Butterfly

Opera Bohemia, a company of young professional singers, took to the road again with a production of Puccini's Madam Butterfly, set in modern Japan. As with their previous stagings of La Bohème and Lucia di Lammermoor, the singers were accompanied not just by piano (Geoffrey Tanti) but also by a single violin (Feargus Hetherington in Dundee, with Emily Macpherson sharing the other performances) which added a surprising and touching depth to the presentation.

The Gardyne performance in Dundee on 21 April was given before a good sized audience. Geoffrey Tanti was a subtle pianist - strictly speaking an accompanist. So strong was the sense of cohesion within this team that obvious signs of conducting were minimised.  The violin accompaniment was generally effective and sweet toned.

Back in the sixties, when Scottish Opera toured Britain with a piano-accompanied Opera For All group with three contrasting works playing in repertoire, Butterfly was frequently part of the mix. To present it with a cast of six singers, a certain amount of editing is inevitable. No chorus, of course, and the Bonze's brief outburst at the wedding is, in the circumstances, dispensable. Yamadori's brief scene is also cut, which focusses attention more strongly on Butterfly. The updating was relatively straightforward - the usual simple sliding panels, but with modern furniture, and contemporary American garb for most of the characters, except when Cio-Cio-San needed her ceremonial kimono. Also the camp interpretation of Goro provided a distraction, though it was a pleasant change to get away from the more common presentation as a pantomime villain.

All the principals turned out to be good actors, projecting plenty of detailed characterisation in this intimate staging. Catriona Clark made an excellent Butterfly, avoiding the hackneyed elements of playing an adolescent, while having plenty in reserve for the final scene. Alistair Digges, singing in spite of a cold, got through the evenng bravely showing only the odd moment of discomfort.  Beth Mackay and Whitaker Mills both produced three-dimensional characters, and sang strongly. Fiona Wilkie was also effective in her double assignment (characters well differentiated), and Warren Gillespie gave an excellent vocal performance.

The management of the Gardyne Theatre must be commended on showcasing this effective and moving production. 

Alan Dear aims amongst other things to make this theatre the natural home for opera in Dundee. Since the reopening of the Gardyne, Dear has made good progress.  We look forward to the next appearances of Opera Bohemia and hope they can establish themselves as Scotland's second touring opera company.

Performance Cast

Lieut. F B Pinkerton U S Navy

Alistair Digges

Goro marriage broker

Warren Gillespie

Suzuki Cio-Cio-San's servant

Beth Mackay

Sharpless U S Consul in Nagasaki

Whitaker Mills

Cio-Cio-San known as Madam Butterfly

Catriona Clark

Imperial Commissioner

Fiona Wilkie

Kate Pinkerton

Fiona Wilkie

Performance DatesMadam Butterfly 2013

Map List

Woodend Barn | Banchory, Kincardineshire

11 Apr, 19.30

Town Hall, Lossiemouth | Lossiemouth

12 Apr, 19.30

Strathpeffer Pavilion | Strathpeffer

14 Apr, 20.00

Eastgate Arts Centre, Peebles | Peebles

17 Apr, 19.30

Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock | Greenock

20 Apr, 19.30

Gardyne Theatre | Dundee

21 Apr, 19.30

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