A quick note on the plot. Cio-Cio-San, a fragile 15-year-old Japanese geisha, is in love; unfortunately it is with the rather caddish, self involved Lieutenant B F Pinkerton of the US navy who dreams of having a new girl in each port as he sails the seas. As you may have guessed, this is not a match made in heaven and after the consummation of their marriage, Pinkerton has to leave abruptly to “work”. Poor Madama Butterfly waits patiently for his return for three agonisingly long years, so naturally she is less than pleased when he rocks up with his new American missus demanding custody of their son.
Considered by many, as the world’s most loved opera, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly has once again been adopted by Opera Australia and injected with a sensual fusion of Eastern and Western allure. The set, formed of a raised wooden platform and suspended over water is enchanting and particularly poignant combined with the knowledge that in Japanese culture, water or sui, can represent the changing emotions. The costumes are incredible and serve to represent the exoticism and beauty that Pinkerton is so drawn to in Butterfly. And of course, there is the music; Orchestra Victoria embrace the heartbreakingly exquisite score with ease, complimenting the performance of James Egglestone who plays Pinkerton with such innocence that we almost forget our dislike for him.
Hiromi Omura, who plays Madama Butterfly, is in a different league altogether, bringing an honesty to her performance that comes with her extensive touring of the show across the globe. Omura manages to evolve onstage with authenticity, shedding the childless fragility of her youth in act one to the despairingly hopeful mood of act two, she successfully imparts her emotional journey with poise. The closing moments are imbued with a dramatic finality that will leave you quivering for more, Madama Butterfly is tremendously moving and not to be missed.