Hot! Fly away with Puccini’s Madama Butterfly

Madama Butterfly

Staged by almost 500 separate productions internationally over the past 5 years, Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, a classic opera which tells the story of love, betrayal and sacrifice, has now become one of the most popular and beloved operas in the world.

Madama Butterfly tells the tragic love story between a naive 15-year old girl, Cio-Cio-san and her dashing American paramour, U.S. Navy Lieutenant B.F. Pinkerton set in Nagasaki, Japan.  A happily-ever-after tale ends off in one of longing and loneliness when Pinkerton abandons Cio-Cio-san for another wife Kate. Disowned by her family after they find that she has deserted her ancestral religion to follow that of her husband’s, Cio-Cio-san, also called Butterfly, is abandoned and left to raise her child alone. She diligently awaits the return of the man she loves so desperately, only to be rewarded with the knowledge that she has been cast aside for another woman.

Madama Butterfly - Director, Andrew Sinclair

Andrew Sinclair, the Resident Director of the Royal Opera, Covent Garden helms this classic opera for the Singapore. Andrew made his debut at The Australian Opera in 1981 with La Bohème and had also worked on Cavalleria Rusticana, Pagliacci, La Bohème and Salome for the Singapore Lyric Opera.This opera will also feature a dynamic international cast from Japan, the Phillippines, Spain and Singapore. Conducted by Joshua Tan Kang Ming, with set and lighting designs by Christopher Chua and Dorothy Png. With costumes designed by Kenneth Rowell, Madama Butterfly will set your heart ablaze with its vivid colour and emotion.

Luxe Society speaks to Andrew Sinclair, the director of Singapore Lyric Opera’s Madama Butterfly, about his inspiration and thoughts about his role as a director, in bringing this production though a different perspective.

LUXE SOCIETY (LSA): What is your inspiration in bringing this show to the Singapore stage?

ANDREW SINCLAIR (AS): I have directed MADAMA BUTTERFLY quite often now, the most recent being October last year. A different set meant I could look at this show afresh and see what I could do with it with an almost entirely Asian cast and only Western artists in the roles that Puccini created for Westerners.

LSA: Will the classic opera be portrayed in the similar manner as the standard version which Puccini has revised in 1907?

AS: We are indeed performing the standard version that Puccini revised after its premiere. It is the version that is generally performed in the opera houses of the world today although some houses are reverting to performing the original version. There is one text change where we are using the text from the original version simply because I feel it makes the dramatic moment stronger.

LSA: You mentioned that you will “shed a different light on this masterpiece”. What will you be presenting to the Singapore audience?

AS: As a director I think one always tries to shed new light on masterpiece without bending it out of shape for our own ends. It’s a challenge as we are there to serve the piece; the piece is not there to serve us. I have also directed the original 1904 version of the opera. It is a much “grittier”, more hard-hitting piece than the version that is generally used today. However, I think it is perfectly possible to portray a lot of what Puccini wanted to say in his 1904 version in the revised edition without disturbing it .It requires the focus to be very much on the singers without getting lost in a scenic whirlwind of Japanese tradition. Here I believe the set throws the singers and the characters they portray into sharp focus without them disappearing in a deluge of cherry blossom.

Madama Butterfly is set to play at the Esplanade Theatre on the 1, 2, 4 & 5 February 2013 at 8pm. Tickets from $28 to S$130 and are now available from, at all SISTIC outlets and the booking hotline (65) 6348 5555.

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