Review: Madama Butterfly at Blackpool Grand

A visually stunning opera performance by the Ellen Kent company played to an appreciative crowd in the resort on the 4th February 2022

By Lucinda Herbert
Wednesday, 9th February 2022, 3:15 pm

The Ellen Kent company returned to Blackpool with a visually stunning opera that even the most casual viewer could enjoy. The Grand theatre transformed into an exotic garden, and as the consul wiped his brow you'd never have guessed it was blowing a gale out on Church Street.

Conductor, Vasyl Vasylenko and the Ukrainian National Orchestra brought Puccini’s magnificent score to life with power and bombast from the intro, to the haunting aria ‘One Fine Day’, . The wedding ceremony was a kaleidoscope of colour, decadent costumes and Japanese tradition - a visual treat.

Alyona Kistenyova (Cio-Cio San) and Maria Davydova (Suzuki) captivated the crowd with exquisite vocal harmonies and their heart-wrenching dynamic during 'The Flower Duet'.

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Ellen Kent's production of Madama Butterfly at the Blackpool Grand. 04th February 2022

Vitalii Liskovetski was so convincing as quasi-villainous playboy, Pinkerton, he received a raucous ‘boo’ at the end. A powerful performance - of a character we all loved to hate.

In contrast, the crowd was charmed by Vladimir Dragos who played the US consul, Sharpless. His affable dry-wit and empathy brought some welcome humour and lightness to this overwhelmingly sombre performance.

The aptly named child, Sorrow (played by Nancy Louth) really tugged at the emotions in the final scenes. It was great to see Kendal and Lancaster Stagecoach theatre students on stage too.

The simple plot, relatable characters and beautiful arias makes Madama Butterfly an easily digestible opera. Ellen Kent's productions are all about making opera more accessible and it's wonderful that Blackpool gets the chance to enjoy high culture at this standard. An outstanding performance.