Opera Scotland

Madam Butterfly 1987Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Madama Butterfly

Scottish Opera celebrated its Silver Jubilee (actually on June 5) with the first run of its third staging of Butterfly. The director was the famous Spanish actor/director Nuria Espert. She had appeared several times at the Edinburgh Festival, usually in plays by Lorca, but this was her first attempt at directing opera, and she came up with the novel concept of setting it in a tenement-style timber structure. It was very different from the usual picturesque cherry orchard.

Gibson, in his final new production as head of the company he had brought into being, showed himself to be still an expert Puccini conductor,  His subsequent appearances with the company were to conduct revivals of three of his favourites -  Tosca (twice), Madama Butterfly and Eugene Onegin.

Norman Bailey broke away from his Wagnerian repertoire, and Yoko Watanabe turned out to be that very rare creature, a Japanese soprano who could actually perform the stressful role of Cio-Cio-San in a thoroughly convincing way vocally as well as dramatically. Her early death prevented the company from bringing her back in other non-Japanese roles where she may have been just as convincing.

Seppo Ruohonen were both equally convincing in their parts, and came back when the staging was revived.

Espert's staging was also borrowed by Covent Garden, whose own production, originally by Robert Helpmann, dated back to 1953.  She also directed a new production in London of Rigoletto.


Scottish Opera's Season - 1986/87

This season comprised Nine main stage productions plus an Opera-Go-Round staging with piano, and a most unusual Edinburgh Festival event.   The new productions were Carmen Iolanthe,  Intermezzo,  Flying Dutchman,   From the House of the Dead,   Billy Budd,  and  Madama Butterfly.  There were two revivals, The Marriage of Figaro and The Barber of Seville.  The Opera-Go Round production was of Verdi's Macbeth,  The season opened at the Edinburgh Festival, with a concert including music from Gershwin's Girl Crazy.

Performance Cast

Lieutenant F B Pinkerton U S Navy

Seppo Ruohonen

Goro marriage broker

Neil Jenkins

Suzuki Cio-Cio-San's servant

Anne-Marie Owens

Sharpless U S Consul in Nagasaki

Norman Bailey

Cio-Cio-San known as Madam Butterfly

Yoko Watanabe

Imperial Commissioner

Jonathan Hawkins

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

John Tranter

Prince Yamadori

Henry Newman

Kate Pinkerton

Clare Shearer

Performance DatesMadam Butterfly 1987

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

28 Apr, 19.15 2 May, 19.15 6 May, 19.15 8 May, 19.15 20 May, 19.15 2 Jun, 19.15 5 Jun, 19.15

Tyne Theatre | Newcastle-upon-Tyne

26 May, 19.15 30 May, 19.15

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

24 Jun, 19.15 27 Jun, 19.15

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