I have my friend Cheryl down for the weekend, we were off to day to the Coliseum to see English National Opera's production of Madam Butterfly. The production is the Anthony Minghella one.
The set was quite sparse but this was more than made up for by the costumes and the lighting. The later was very effective in providing atmosphere.
The story is a little more believable than say Turandot. Butterfly falls for and marries a cadish US naval office called Pinkerton. Pinkerton gets her pregnant goes back to America (he doesn't know she's pregnant) and then comes back 3 years later with an American wife breaking Butterflies heart. He and his wife offer to look after the boy but Butterfly says Pinkerton has to ask her to his face. As Pinkerton arrives he finds that Butterfly has killed herself.
The two ladies singing the rolls of Butterfly (Mary Plazas) and her servant Suzuki (Pamela Helen Stephen) were very good George Van Bergen playing Sharpless was fine. I wasn't so impressed with Pinkerton (Timothy Richards), I felt at times he was struggling to be heard and I wasn't convinced by him as a predatory character.
The puppet to play the child works but does it add emotion? the black "ninjas" used to move things about on stage worked well I thought.
The death scene was well done with the running blood from Butterflies death scene being represented by the belt/sash on her Obi.
The tunes were good but I felt at times it lacked subtlety. I will also add that I feel that the translation to English seems to draw away some of the emotion.
I enjoyed the emotion, the lighting and the female singers. It's one I want to see again in another production.
ADDENDUM: In case of any doubt I did enjoy it!
ADDENDUM II: The theatre was full. When I saw Fidelio at the ENO the balcony was virtually 1/2 empty.