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London Music Guide

CRISTINA GALLARDO-DOMAS as Madama Butterfly. © BILL COOPER London Classical Review

Madama Butterfly, ROH

Royal Opera House
Covent Garden WC2E 9DD
Tube: Covent Garden
21 Mar - 2 May 2005

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Continued Clash

Reliving the ever popular east-meets-west love triangle, the Royal Opera brings new talent and fresh interpretations to Puccini's Madama Butterfly...

Conductor Daniel Oren stepped off the performance with a fiery precision; a minimalist set and a string of commanding moments gave the performance further zeal.

Oren's strong push was notable: the orchestra swung, in lovely dichotomy, between Puccini's clever cultural pluckings, giving weight to new twists in American nationalism and eastern cultures. Directors Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier did well to dress the production in the subtle imperialism of today's foreign American explorations - a fresh breath to a very popular opera.

As for performances, Christina Gallardo-Domas commandeered as Cio-Cio-San, lifting the production from the quieter foibles of Stephen O'Mara, who stepped in last-minute as B.F. Pinkerton for an ailing Marco Berti. Christine Rice performed amiably as Suzuki, and Alaisdair Elliot - Goro - was delightfully annoying.

Outshining the most dramatic of acting, however, was Oren's orchestra, which flowed and twisted seamlessly through Puccini's score, elevating the production substantially. Perhaps it is the taste of spring in the air, or the warmer breeze, but whatever the form of spring fever, Madama Butterfly's ROH orchestra has captured it, weaving in between lovely spring allusions to the aspiring depth of Puccini's intentions.

Megan M. Retka

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