Opera Scotland

Madam Butterfly 2014Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Madama Butterfly

A nineteen-performance revival of Sir David McVicar's superb production from 2000 unusually started off in Edinburgh. It then moved to Glasgow in time for the re-opening of the Theatre Royal after most of the rebuilding of its main foyer and public areas. The Glasgow venue also enjoyed a brief summer season, with the final three performances in late-July and early-August to coincide with the Commonwealth Games, by which time the new extension was to have been completed - in fact the wonderful extension was delayed until the start of the following year.

The cast contained first-time visitors in all three female roles, but not Anne Sophie Duprels, the 2010 Manon, who had already sung Butterfly with Opera North. The leading men were more familiar, with José Ferrero at this point almost the company's resident Puccini tenor. Christopher Purves had not appeared with the company recently. Adrian Thompson made a welcome return after an even longer absence. Marcin Bronikowski, already known to be an excellent comic, could be seen in a serious role. Conductor Marco Guidarini was also returning after a substantial gap.

The McVicar production had worn well, with the subtle touches still showing through - the wedding guests in a mixture of Japanese and (old-fashioned) western dress, while Cio-Cio-San is seen wearing a similar bustle after the interval (Suzuki still in Japanese style, and Kate in a far more modern outfit). The revival director, Elaine Kidd, had taken a sensibly pragmatic approach, and a few adaptations were made to suit the casting. So, with two baritones in early middle age, greying if not quite grizzled, Sharpless appeared in formal morning attire from the start, and was clearly no longer the bright all-American Ivy League graduate in pink and white candy-stripe blazer that younger exponents have sported before.

It was pleasing to observe that Guidarini, now one of the busiest Italian conductors on the world stage, has developed greatly and gained in authority since he worked here in his youth. He drew plenty of subtle touches from the band, and on the few occasions that he let the musicians off the leash the power was always appropriate.

At the second performance, a packed Sunday 4 o'clock show, Duprels was giving her first performance, a dainty little figure - even more so alongside the burly tenor. Her dramatic involvement was total, and she created a delicate and moving characterisation. Hanna Hipp, a recent Covent Garden trainee, was an excellent Suzuki, and, like Bronikowski's movingly involved Sharpless, was constantly watching, with growing concern and disapproval. Adrian Thompson was a superbly characterful Goro, less viper-like and more professional than some. Ferrero's Pinkerton was perhaps more generalised, but well sung, and reacted cheerfully at curtain-call, where he was greeted by some muttered boos, from an audience used to giving the bird to panto villains.

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Performance Cast

Lieutenant F B Pinkerton U S Navy

José Ferrero

Goro marriage broker

Adrian Thompson

Suzuki Cio-Cio-San's servant

Hanna Hipp (Exc Jun 19, 21)

Louise Collett (Jun 19, 21)

Sharpless U S Consul in Nagasaki

Christopher Purves (May 8, 13, 15, 24, 27, 29, 31; Jun 5, 7)

Marcin Bronikowski (May 11, 17, 21; Jun 12, 14, 19, 21; Jul 29, 31; Aug 3)

Cio-Cio-San known as Madam Butterfly

Hye-Youn Lee (May 8, 15, 17, 21, 24, 27; Jun 5, 7, 19, 21)

Anne Sophie Duprels (May 11, 13, 29, 31; June 12, 14; Jul 29, 31; Aug 3)


Fiona MacDonald


Sandra Haxton


Sarah Power

Uncle Yakuside

David Morrison

Imperial Commissioner

Freddie Tong

Official Registrar

Steven Faughey

Bonze a priest, Cio-Cio-San's uncle

Jonathan May

Prince Yamadori

Andrew McTaggart

Kate Pinkerton

Catrin Aur

Performance DatesMadam Butterfly 2014

Map List

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

8 May, 19.15 11 May, 16.00 13 May, 19.15 15 May, 19.15 17 May, 19.15

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

21 May, 19.15 24 May, 19.15 27 May, 19.15 29 May, 19.15 31 May, 19.15 29 Jul, 19.15 31 Jul, 19.15 3 Aug, 16.00

Eden Court Theatre | Inverness

5 Jun, 19.15 7 Jun, 19.15

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

12 Jun, 19.30 14 Jun, 19.30

Grand Opera House, Belfast | Belfast

19 Jun, 19.15 21 Jun, 19.15

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