Review: Madam Butterfly at The Royal Albert Hall

Puccini’s highly acclaimed opera Madam Butterfly has returned to The Royal Albert Hall for it’s fifth season, due to its outstanding success.

And rightly so, for it is a stunning spectacle as the Royal Albert Hall is transformed into a magical Japanese water garden adorned with flowers, floating candles, Japanese fishermen and vibrant kimonos setting the scene for this tragic love story of hope and despair.  


Young Cio-Cio San (Butterfly) is left waiting for 3 years, watching every boat enter the bay of Nagasaki, in the belief that her one love, American Naval officer Pinkerton, will return to her and their son. Unfotunately, when he does he brings his newly wed American wife with him. The pain and grief on realising that she has been renounced and forgotten by her family, misled and replaced by her husband and had her son taken from her is too much to bear for Butterfly, and her ending is famously tragic.  

For the true opera lovers the lead parts are taken by internationally renowned operatics including Mihoko Kinoshita, Jee Hyun Lim and Asako Tamura as Cio-Cio San and Philip O’Brien, James Edwards and Robyn Lyn Evans as Pinkerton (see cast list on the Royal Albert Hall website for details of who is performing on which night). 

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The cast convey the emotions of the characters so powerfully that the audience are held transfixed at the beautiful melodies and Puccini’s artistically interwoven motifs within the oriental music played wonderfully by the Royal Philharmonic. The round of The Royal Albert Hall as a venue gives this production a more innovative and creative dynamic, which has been superbly mastered by all.

Butterfly’s heroic and lonely struggle is most acutely felt during her performance of ‘One Fine Day’ or during her night time vigil waiting for Pinkerton’s arrival which is simple and beautiful, as is the whole performance.

Madam Butterfly is showing until Sunday 13th March. Find more details on the Royal Albert Hall website.