Northern Ballet’s adaptation of Madame Butterfly, running until March 10th is a delicate and powerful mixture of classical ballet mixed with traditional Japanese dance.
Artistic Director, David Nixon, threw all of the emotion of this effecting opera into the physical movement of dance, resulting in one of the most expressive ballets I have ever seen.
The story follows a young girl who, after the suicide of her father, is forced to become a geisha. During this time she is sold to marry an American soldier, with whom she falls in love. During his absence at war she bears his child and spends three years desperately awaiting his arrival home. On hearing of his return she is ecstatic, only to find he is with another woman and they plan to take his child, resulting in a tragic and emotive final scene.
The production was simply fantastic. The focus on the strength of the male dancers and the delicacy of the female dancers resulted in powerful performances throughout and beauitfully visually expressed the image of a subservient and vulnerable woman. The staging was also beautiful and the way the dancers used the set was creatively and intelligently choreographed. Designed by Ali Allen, the set design was stunning, transporting the audience into a hidden Japan – complemented by colourful costumes and a clever use of light, dramatically changing to aid the emotive narrative.
The orchestra were equally phenomenal. Musical Director John Pryce Jones did an excellent job of ensuring that the music continually complemented the dance, never overpowering or under-whelming. The adaptations on Puccinis original composition were unobtrusive and resulted in a score that both worked well as a new production (without words) but did not affect the recognisable arias that have become synonymous with this story.
Even if you may not feel as though ballet would be your thing go and see Madame Butterly. It has all the elements you would expect from excellent theatre – effecting and virtuosic performances, a powerful narrative, exquisite staging and beautiful music.
Get your tickets here.
Words by Kirsty Hulse