Madama Butterfly at the Royal Opera House
What a show…….or what a Jaho! The 2003 production by Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier gave us a clean stripped back production with no gimmicks. What a relief. With some of the most gorgeous music written by Puccini to enjoy, too often is this spoilt by a production that just becomes too complicated, but not here - even though the evening suffered from a severe bout of lighting glitches. The computer obviously malfunctioned!
This was probably because the Jaho show was all about the Madam Butterfly of Ermonela Jaho. She is definitely no 15 year old, but she is the prima soprano in the world today and her Madam Butterfly, which is her signature role, was the most extraordinary portrayal of the role that has been seen for many, many years. It was not just an outstanding piece of relevant theatrical portrayal, but her ability to shade her voice and float the various intonations required was exceptional. She had the whole package and kept the audience in rapture throughout the whole emotionally charged evening.
She was brilliantly supported by the Suzuki of Elizabeth De Shong, whose deep mezzo shone throughout, at times matching Jaho’s radiance.
Jaho was lucky enough to find the conductor, Antonio Pappano, on the top of his form and they combined brilliantly all night. Pappano’s ability to caress the music and care for his singers at the same time was faultless and the orchestra responded accordingly.
The slimy, unsympathetic Pinkerton was the Argentinian tenor, Marcelo Puente, whose handsome South American looks didn’t always match his medium tenor sound. In the first Act, he used his ability to float notes to a great extent, but sometimes so much so that his voice actually disappeared from sound. He ended the evening strongly and has a clear Italian ring about his quality.
The Sharpless was the American, Scott Hendricks. This was a very average performance and one wonders why one of the wonderful homegrown baritone voices could not have been contracted for this role, as I am sure they would have done a much better job. The sleazy Goro was sung by the Italian, Carlo Bosi, who excelled in the role of the nasty marriage broker, with a substantial light tenor voice.
However, it is incredible how the dark haired Japanese geisha girl and the dark haired American Pinkerton managed to produce a blond blue eyed child after their liaison. This doesn’t make sense and seems to take the production in the wrong direction.
This Jaho show was a ‘pull at the heartstrings’ event and is one of the best Butterfly’s seen at the ROH.
With kind regards,
Thursday, 30 March 2017