Until December 14
MIXED marriages never work out in opera. Otello murders Desdemona, Radames and Aida are entombed alive, and the trusting,innocent Butterfly is betrayed by the callow, callous Pinkerton.
The drama in this Puccini opera is powerfully realised by Opera Australia, thanks to all parts working well and to a performance of extraordinary emotional intensity by Japanese soprano Hiromi Omura in the title role.
All around me as the second act unfolded there were furtive movements of knuckles towards eyes - including, I have to confess, in the seat occupied by this hoary old reviewer - as Butterfly bravely maintains her optimism until all hope is gone. Bereft also of honour, hara-kiri by knife to bloodless jugular is all that is left.
Omura married dramatic and vocal conviction, singing with delicacy and power, conveying beautifully the innocent girl's fragile vulnerability, then her courage, and finally her despair. James Egglestone, in fine voice, was a convincingly feckless Pinkerton, while Sian Pendry (Suzuki) and Barry Ryan (Sharpless) were distinguished.
Conductor Giovanni Reggioli shaped and paced the music skilfully and drew another sterling effort from Orchestra Victoria.
The team in this venerable but still beautiful Moffatt Oxenbould production get pretty much every artistic decision right, in serving the story and the music's dramatic power. The sets are simple, clean, elegant and effective, the costumes are sumptuous, the lighting is deft and the direction is sensitive and intelligent.
Puccini, and the audience, are the beneficiaries.