Review: Madama Butterfly, Grand Theatre, Leeds

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Magnificently as she sang, Anne Sophie Duprels, as Cio Cio San, achieves her most affecting moment in silence.

Magnificently as she sang, Anne Sophie Duprels, as Cio Cio San, achieves her most affecting moment in silence.

As the orchestra play through her all-night vigil in Act 2, taking us from anticipation to despair to resignation, no one can doubt that Duprels has acting ability of the highest quality to add to her fine soprano voice.

We sympathise and share her anguish.

On the other hand if there was a top 10 of the most despised male characters in opera, Pinkerton would surely score highly.

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

I felt Opera North debutant, Merunas Vitulski’s voice was a little underpowered in the early scenes, but came good at the end of Act 1 His acting fulfilled the role of unredeemed louse.

Mezzo-soprano Ann Taylor, as the maid Suzuki, provides restrained support for Butterfly hinting at the car crash to come.

Sharpless, too, sees the danger and is played sympathetically by Peter Savidge.

Director Tim Albery knows 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, supplemented here by Hildegard Bechtler’s set of sliding panels and minimal props.

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

Madama Butterfly at Leeds Grand until January 28 and touring to Salford, Nottingham and Newcastle.

Opera North presents Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera (A Masked Ball) at the venue from February 3 to February 24.

The season continutes with Mozart’s Don Giovanni is on from February 17 to March 23.

Salome by Richard Strauss is on from April 19 to May 16.

Tickets are available from the box office on 0844 848 2700. Alternatively you can book on line.