Madama Butterfly revived but not revitalised

The COC’s production of Madama Butterfly opened last night at the Four Seasons Centre.  I’m not a huge Madama Butterfly fan and it takes a really good production and a really good performance to get me past my instinctive dislike for a libretto based on child rape and sex tourism backed by Puccini soup with an infusion of Mikado.  This production, being revived for the umpty umpth time (It dates back to the Brian Dickie era) just wasn’t that.  Director Brian Macdonald writes in the programme “We both (he and Dickie) had had experience at the Stratford Festival.  That meant wood, simple props, no decoration that wouldn’t bespeak the essence of the play”.  Throw in an Allen key and it would sound like a trip to IKEA.  Which is pretty much what the designs are like; clean, functional and inoffensive.  Throw in costumes and gestures straight from the Mikado and you have it.  Not bad.  Just meh.

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