Madam Butterfly - Theatre Review

OperaUpClose present the most exciting production of Puccini’s Madam Butterfly since Malcolm Mclaren’s re-mix made the pop charts, at the London’s Little Opera House at the King’s Head Theatre in Upper Street, Islington.

THE BACK room of a north London pub is not where you’d expect to find a full length opera, complete with live music and a new libretto. But that’s exactly what OperaUpClose have done at the King’s Head, a theatre pub in Islington.

In this ballsy retelling of Puccini’s tragic love story, the action takes place in modern day Bangkok, where Butterfly is a 15-year-old ladyboy and Pinkerton an American Airlines pilot.

A piano, viola and clarinet are charged with bringing Puccini’s classic score to life. While they do so commendably, regular opera goers looking for something more orchestral may be disappointed.

The singing is a little patchy and scratchy in places and hardly helped by the acoustic challenges of the venue. Nevertheless, the production is not without talent. Randy Nichol deserves a special mention for his portrayal of the treacherous Pinkerton and there are some nice moments from Mariya Krywaniuk as Butterfly and Alison Dunne, her maid.


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At just a fraction of the cost of a visit to the Royal Opera House or the Coliseum, this intimate and admirable production is surprisingly enjoyable. Flawed but fun, it’s the most exciting thing to happen to Madam Butterfly since Malcolm Mclaren’s re-mix made the pop charts in 1984.

* Showing at London’s Little Opera House at the King’s Head Theatre in Upper Street, N1, until Sunday, January 23.

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