Wolverhampton's opera-goers need to seize the moment when touring companies come to town, hence the full house for this single performance of Madama Butterfly. It was just as well, really, as the Russian State Opera of Siberia production was not something you would want to sit through twice.
It looked handsome enough, with an attractive multifunction set and period costumes that stylishly put us in early-20th century Japan. Musically and dramatically, though, it had serious flaws.
Even allowing for the inevitable off day during a tour which is taking three operas to 26 venues (Monday's Butterfly was the 32nd of 42 - no UK company would dream of doing such a thing) one can hardly excuse such sub-standard singing and acting.
Zinaida Mainasheva was woefully miscast in the title role, too confident in appearance and harsh of voice to suggest a shy, vulnerable teenage bride. Her keynote aria Un bel di vedremo - One fine day was awkwardly phrased and pitched, and had little sense of wondering anticipation.
Konstantin Tolstobrov's Pinkerton was even less convincing. He looked and acted like a living statue although, after a memory lapse near the start (which probably caused the ensuing surtitle breakdown), his singing did improve as things progressed. Poor Hermann Efremov as Sharpless, however, seemed in poor voice throughout.
The evening's few vocal and acting honours belong to Olga Basova. Her Suzuki was a fully formed, lustrously sung portrayal that quite outshone everyone else, especially in the flower duet.
Orchestral support under Alexander Kossinsky sounded just as harsh and insensitive as the singing, displaying all the hallmarks of a band bored and totally played out.
Puccini would not have been pleased.