REVIEW: Madama Butterfly, streamed from Royal Opera House to Stephen Joseph

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There is absolutely no need to tinker with Puccini’s sob-fest, no need for gimmicks or trendy innovations, everything you need for great art is there in the music.

No wonder it stands at number six on Operabase’s list of top 10 operas world-wide.

What you do need is a Butterfly with astonishing stamina, great acting ability and, above all, a stunning voice.

The Albanian soprano, Ermonela Jaho, possesses all three and deployed them to great effect in this highly affecting production.

The pain and resignation in her face, after her all-night vigil waiting for Pinkerton, following the famous Humming Chorus, will live long in the memory.

Mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Deshong, as the maid Suzuki, provided first rate support which was acknowledged by an appreciative audience roar when she took her curtain call.

Suzuki has to balance hope for Butterfly with her anticipation of the car crash to come. A delicate balance to establish and maintain.

If Operabase had a top 10 of the most despised male characters, Pinkerton would score highly.

All he has to do is look good (Butterfly’s infatuation has to be convincing), sing some top Cs and scarper.

Marcelo Puente fulfilled the role of this unredeemed louse.

Conductor Antonio Pappano is surely at his strongest with Italian verismo. His understanding with Ermonela Jaho and the subtlety of orchestral support was exceptional.

This was Royal Opera House at the very top of its form.