Madame Butterfly

Date 26th October 2013
Society Opera South East
Venue White Rock Theatre Hastings
Type of Production Opera
Director Fraser Grant
Musical Director Kenneth Roberts


Author: Anne Lawson

With famous titles as ‘One Fine Day’ and ‘Humming Chorus’ this opera tells a love story with a tragic finale, set in Nagasaki, Japan. An arranged marriage ceremony between Geisha Cio Cio San, nickname ‘Butterfly’ and US Naval Lieutenant Pinkerton. Her abandonment and loneliness is comforted by loyal servant Suzuki, and gives birth to son Sorrow, now aged three. Other suitors have been offered by the marriage broker but she refuses believing he will return. Pinkerton does, but accompanied by American Wife Kate who agrees to take the child. Fraser sets the action during the 1920’s so cleverly mixing east with west.  The set was beautifully prepared by David Goddard and Kevin Wreford using black lacquered back panels with symbols reading ‘better to die with honour than to live without’. Shoji screens provided pockets for action and these were discretely moved by chorus members.  There was a feel of Art Deco with costumes combining the cultures, and lighting effects inventive. The American theme runs though the music as well as interesting use of the flag.  Principal singers were excellent with Elizabeth Roberts as a superb Butterfly, baritone Peter Grevatt a confident Sharpless, tenor Jeremy Vinogradov as Goro the marriage broker together with James Heath, Lieutenant Pinkerton. Local Karen McInally demonstrated a wonderful Suzuki with great emotion. The large orchestra led by Kenneth Roberts sometimes overpowered the lyrics. Good supportive cameos and chorus throughout.  A first class performance, with a big box of tissues a must.