Theatre in Wales

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Second Viewing Confirms Quality Production

At Mid Wales Opera

Mid Wales Opera- Madam Butterfly , Aberystwyth Arts Centre , September 22, 2011
At Mid Wales Opera by Mid Wales Opera- Madam Butterfly Nicholas Cleobury speaks up from the orchestra pit. “Our Butterfly for tonight ” he says “has not been well. She asks for your understanding.” It shows not in the slightest. From her entry, in duet with Charlotte Stephenson, Stephanie Corley delivers a great dramatic performance.

It is a part of opera’s other reality that a trained soprano voice has to inhabit the character of a fifteen year old. Nonetheless, Stephanie Corley’s Cio-Cio San has a childlike quality to her first act playing. Her character moves on, in Stephen Barlow’s conception, to the young, perky homemaker in her nineteen-fifties all-mod-cons house. She files her nails, freshens up her home with an aerosol freshener, throws Goro’s hat to the ground. Then, after the transformation from stripey skirt back to the gossamer nightwear of the wedding night, she takes on a terrible resolution. The packing of the infant’s tiny clothing has an irrevocable poignancy to it.

John Pierce is Pinkerton for this performance. He is a different kind of American serviceman, the innocent abroad. He is capable of a beatific smile. But he is dumbfounded, awkward in the face of an utterly foreign culture.

A second viewing reveals more of the production’s layers. Declan Randall’s lighting gives us not just a serene deep blue for the evening and later the light of dawn. The Bonze, a hellish figure to start with, has his cloak picked out in a fiery orange.

Mid-Wales Opera’s touring schedule takes the company as far east as Canterbury, as far south as the Isle of Wight. St Asaph, Rhosllanerchrugog, Harlech, Brecon, Milford are in, Cardiff and Swansea not. Meeta Raval sings Butterfly at Aberdare’s unique Coliseum 10th November. Stephanie Corley is at Abergavenny 28th September. See.

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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