Opera Scotland

Madam Butterfly 2020Ellen Kent Productions

Read more about the opera Madama Butterfly

After a gap of a couple of seasons, it was good to welcome Ellen Kent's production company back to Scotland, in harness with a new co-producing partner, Senbla.

In Scotland there were only five performances in total, all of Puccini's perennial favourites. La bohème  and Madama Butterfly. Butterfly opened proceedings in Dundee, the performance seen by your reviewer, with both works then seen in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Butterfly suits the awkward Caird Hall facilities, with a single handsomely designed set filling the stage without need for a scene change.  Mind you, this has not restricted the company's efforts in previous years, with other favourites such as Nabucco, Rigoletto, La traviata, Aïda, Carmen, Cav & Pag, La bohèmeTosca and Turandot all being accommodated with success. 

The uncredited, but attractive Butterfly set is complemented by the elaborate and colourful traditional costumes. It seemed to this reviewer that the chorus, in its brief appearance, was larger in numbers than last time and its drama projects well in the huge hall.  To judge from many of the comments overheard, a good number of the Dundee audience were again seeing opera live for the first time.

This time the dramatic temperature was a bit cooler in the first act, with the orchestra seeming slightly restrained.  However things picked up after the interval, and the opera made its usual powerful effect as the second act tragedy took a grip. 

Performers

Elena Dee has appeared in the role for several seasons, and her Butterfly is still a slender and delicate creature, beautifully sung, and acted with dignity and passion. Giorgio Meladze, a tenor of Georgian origin long based in Spain, has a powerful voice with a dark oaky tone that is very attractive.  Iuri Gisca was also a familiar and sympathetic presence as the Consul.

The one new singer in a leading role was the Suzuki. Myroslava Shvakh-Pekar is a young Ukrainian mezzo recently promoted from the chorus. She made an excellent, sympathetic Suzuki, with a smoothly-produced voice also contralto in tone.  The Bonze of Vadim Cernovetskiy and Kate of Maria Tonina also made an impact.  As usual, a local child, Luca Elders, appeared as Butterfly's infant in Act Two, and was a sympathetic presence.

The spring 2020 tour itinerary

The tour opened in Manchester on Tuesday, 21 January, closing in Dublin on Sunday, 12 April. 

The number of scheduled performances totalled 69 in all, including 40 of Madama Butterfly and 29 of La bohème.  The geographical spread was, as usual, impressive, zigzagging from the south of England (Dartford, Brighton, Guildford, Basingstoke, Crawley, Hastings, Portsmouth, Bournemouth); to the South-West (Torquay). Stops also included the London surrounds (Bromley, Richmond, High Wycombe, Wimbledon); East (Ipswich, Southend, King's Lynn);  West (Bath, Malvern, Oxford, Aylesbury, Reading); North (York, Sunderland, Southport, Blackpool, Manchester, Bradford, Sheffield, Hull)  and Midlands (Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Stoke, Leicester). 

There were three venues in Wales (Cardiff, Swansea, Rhyl); as well as Scotland (Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee) and two in Ireland (Limerick, Dublin)  While several venues saw both operas, most just saw one. 

Performance DatesMadam Butterfly 2020

Map List

Caird Hall | Dundee

25 Feb, 19.30

Usher Hall | Edinburgh

27 Feb, 19.30

Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow | Glasgow

1 Mar, 19.30

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