I havent been to the ballet for a number of years, as a child, my sisters and I danced and my daughters enjoyed many years in their tutus, but nothing as beautiful and moving as the Northern Ballet’s performance of Madame Butterfly, and it’s not hard to see why they were crowned Europe’s Best Dance Company.
To whet the appetite an ensemble of dancers performed Perpetuum Mobile to the orchestrated music of Bach’s Violin Concerto in E Major, showing an expertise of technical classical ballet created by Christopher Hampson.
Puccini created a classic opera but, for more than ten years now, David’s Nixon’s Madame Butterfly has been equally enthralling with this heart-rending story of romance, loss, betrayal and tragedy, this time without words, dance and music alone.
Butterfly (Pippa Moore) shies away from the forthright advances of handsome American sailor, Pinkerton (Kelley McKinlay) at first, but then by dance and charm affection grows and eventually blossoms into love.
The beauty of Butterfly’s solo dancing as she waits for Pinkerton’s return, is coupled to superb effect with John Longstaff’s sensitive orchestration of the emotionally charged One Fine Day. Though it’s nigh on impossible for Western dancers to imitate perfectly the coy deference, daintiness and delicacy of movement of those steeped in Oriental culture, the story loses no impact.
The final scene is tremendous. Butterfly‘s son is taken away by Pinkerton’s new American wife, and she commits suicide.
Emotional heartbreak and tragedy is beautifully balanced, though, with chirpy jollity and humour. Matthew Koon as marriage broker Goro, and Hiranao Takahashi as Prince Yamadori have excellent stage presence as well as fine dancing skills,
Stunning, vibrant lighting, a massive moon and simple Japanese building with sliding door and overhanging branch set the mood beautifully, while, assisted by parasols, the colourful beauty of Japanese-style kimono and clothing, create fabulous shape and flow,
A mixture of beautiful dancing, expressive acting and, the powerful moving storytelling was just perfect, it brought magic to the stage.
You don’t have to be a ballet expert to enjoy this performace by Northern Ballet but I guarantee you will enjoy it.
Northern Ballet is touring with Madame Butterfly and Perpetuum Mobile: May 29-30 Liverpool Playhouse: June 2-3 Wolverhampton Grand Theatre.