Welsh National Opera’s production of Puccini’s Madam Butterfly was an emotional and passionate journey of love, optimism, betrayal and devastation.
Cheryl Barker gave an emotional and poignant performance as the tragic heroine, Cio-Cio-San. Singing with joy during the wedding scene, her voice expressed the delight of a young girl preparing for wedded bliss.
Barker’s performance of One Fine Day conveyed all of Butterfly’s hope and naivety, and her patience in waiting for the return of her husband.
Butterfly’s broken heart following her husband’s rejection was expressed in Barker’s passionate final scenes.
As Lieutenant Pinkerton, Gwyn Hughes Jones portrayed the role of a cad with his light and lyrical tenor voice to perfection.
Only in the final scene, as he looked upon the dead Butterfly and held his child in his arms, did the realisation of his actions become apparent.
The tremor within Hughes Jones’ voice reflected this terrible tragedy.Baritone Alan Opie was extremely convincing as Sharpless, the man torn between the innocent Butterfly and his compatriot Pinkerton.
Rich and warm, his tone reflected the importance of his position as American Consul, with the responsibility he felt for Pinkerton, along with his compassion for Butterfly.
Mezzo-soprano Claire Bradshaw was excellent as Butterfly’s loyal maid Suzuki. She sang with conviction and sincerity as she comforted her distraught mistress.
Her serene voice supported and complemented soprano Barker.
Conductor Frédéric Chaslin and the orchestra carried the audience back to early 20th century Japan, with Puccini’s pentatonic Oriental harmonies interspersed with Western melodies; sweeping strings added to the overwhelming sense of tragic betrayal.