Wednesday, 3 June 2015

"MADAME BUTTERFLY" by the People's Theatre Company
Nottingham Arts Theatre.

While I do not profess to know a lot about opera, I know what I like. While I was waiting to go in I was told by a gentleman, older than myself, that I didn't look like the average opera fan, and I suppose I don't. But maybe this shows that opera lovers can come from all walks of life, and after all, what does an opera fan look like?

This was my first full blown opera experience and, maybe I'm finally growing up, but I absolutely loved it. There was so much passion and energy in this music and it will completely overwhelm you. You may feel very emotional and not know why you feel like you do, and that will be quite the norm. I knew the story and the music but nothing will prepare you for the extent of emotion you will feel at this tragic love story and the amazing singing.

"Madame Butterfly" is the story of Cho Cho San (Butterfly) who. at 15 years old, falls in love with Lieutenant Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton from the U.S. of A. They marry and then he returns home, promising to come back to her, which he does. Three years later he returns with his new American wife that he had married just a year before; but he has come back to take his son by Butterfly back to America. Butterfly is destroyed and takes her own life.

An amazingly emotional story which when coupled with the incredible vocal talents on show at The Nottingham Arts Theatre, will have you close to tears and, like myself, thoroughly drained by the end. It is no over exaggeration to state that this is as good as anything you'll see from any of the named operatic companies, at a fraction of the price.

There is absolutely no way that I could highlight any one of those performers on stage over the next one because it would be impossible to do so. Saying that though, Sarah Helsby-Hughes who played Madame Butterfly was exceptional, the sheer power and emotion of her voice and performance will really get to you, maybe in a way that you didn't expect. Sarah has performed with some of the best opera companies in Europe, USA and Japan, and to have her perform in Nottingham with the People's Theatre is a real treat,especially for us in the audience.Sarah also directed Madame Butterfly.

You can listen to any music through your headphones and feel emotion, but whether it be rock, classical, pop, punk, r 'n' b, dubstep or whatever floats your boat, hearing that music and seeing it performed live just feet away from you will reach inside you and bring out a very different kind of emotion from you. And that is so true of opera.

With a clever addition of a few items on stage, the set for "The Mikado", designed by Andrew Nicklin, is transformed into Butterfly's Oriental abode. Once again the orchestra is magnificent. With the set and the wonderful costumes, you'll feel that you've been transported back in time to Japan of the early 1900s.

It is wonderful to see opera at the Nottingham Arts Theatre and they should consider doing this on a more regular basis.

"Madame Butterfly" and "The Mikado" can be seen at The Nottingham Arts Theatre on alternate nights until Saturday 6 June 2015. If you area fan of opera, you'll love it, if not, then take a chance because I think you're about to be converted.

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