Madam Butterfly - WNO Review - Mayflower Southampton

For all the theatre that I have attended in my lifetime (and there is far too much to count!) I'm always shocked and amazed that opera is something that has slipped by me. For me, opera always seemed like something that I would struggle to understand or appreciate. Something that I would find challenging to connect with or even enjoy. 

I was recently invited to attend Madam Butterfly, staged by the Welsh National Opera at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton and felt a tad apprehensive going in a an opera newbie. But after watching, I can't believe I was so nervous. I absolutely adored the show. I fell in love with the theatrical medium of opera, and I honestly can't wait to go back and see another show!

Madam Butterfly is a story that was originally created in 1904 by Puccini based around a young Japanese girl's unrequited love with an American Lieutenant who despite marrying her, never really loves her. On the surface, this is a story of a dream like wedding, one of star crossed lovers that work against the adversity of family, religion and distance to forge a marriage. That is of course until Butterfly realises that with distance comes betrayal, and with adversity comes abandonment. Her desperation to forge herself a life of happiness comes with devastating consequences for all involved. 

I want to reiterate that this is my first venture into opera and I was completely in the dark about what to expect. In reality, I expected something traditional and hard to follow, but the modern set design and the ability to read subtitles as the show went on meant that I could fully immerse myself in something that I could understand completely. I adored the staging and the way that the movement of the house was so seamless, and allowed the colours representing characters to stand out, to allow projections to bring life to the stage, and to represent the stark nature of the life that Butterfly leads. 

Whilst I was able to follow along with the show via the wonder of subtitling, I was absolutely blown away by the score. With the singers that had enough power that they need not use microphones throughout the show, and an orchestra that sent goosebumps up my arms with their perfect rendition of the score, the music soared and the singing sailed through the evening and allowed me to feel fully immersed in the world displayed on stage. It felt magical, moving and powerful. For a story that was created over 100 years ago, it's amazing to see just how it resonates today. 

Madam Butterfly was for me, the perfect show to see as my first tentative step into opera. It's one that had me moved and on the edge of my seat in awe. It's made me appreciate an art form in a way that I never thought I could, and has left me wondering what I would like to see next. For those that are unsure if opera is for them? Go for it, you definitely don't know what you are missing!

Madam Butterfly is on at the Mayflower Southampton until the 4th November and then is replaced with The Barber Of Seville from the 5th-6th November. It will then continue on a UK tour with the Welsh National Opera around the country. 

*Please note: Tickets were gifted, but all opinions are my own. 


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