Scottish Opera: Madama Butterfly
Korean soprano Hye-Youn Lee and Spanish tenor José Ferrero shine in Elaine Kidd's Puccini revival
As Madama Butterfly, one of Scottish Opera’s all-time favourites over the company’s 50-year history, reaches its inevitable final bars, there can hardly be a dry eye in the house. No matter whether seeing Puccini’s universally popular opera for the first time or for the umpteenth, it is a story which cannot fail to move. In a revival of David McVicar’s production, first seen in 2000, Elaine Kidd’s 2014 version is a total triumph. Double-cast, the role of Cio-Cio San is played with an exceptional mix of vulnerability and strength of character by Korean soprano Hye-Youn Lee. Pulsing with emotion, her relationship with the beguiling American naval officer, Lieutenant Pinkterton, can only be a false dream to everyone else, yet for Butterfly it is of the utmost tenderness. As the object of her love, Spanish tenor José Ferrero quickly made it obvious why Scottish Opera have cast him in three operas in the past couple of years. Lyrical and dramatic, the character’s destiny in the US only adds to the poignancy of what he leaves behind in Japan. The stage may be set in muted tones, but the orchestra, conducted by Marco Guidarini, glows in sweeping technicolour.
Reviewed at Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Sun 11 May.