The show begins with a short taster into the exquisite choreography that Northern Ballet has to offer. Perpetuum Mobile is a short fifteen minute performance displaying solos, duets and group pieces by the Northern Ballet company. The clarity of the movements appear effortless as they reflect the clever motifs through excellent timing and dynamics. The connection between the dancers is flawless and each movement, whether sharp or soft has a distinct emotion behind it.
David Nixon’s captivating ballet adaptation of Puccini’s famous opera Madame Butterfly is told so delicately whilst also maintaining the tragedy and emotional intensity. Despite the set being subtle and minimalistic, especially in comparison to other large scale ballets with extravagant set, it manages to convey the complex story line with the simplicity needed.
Madame Butterfly tells the story of a young girl who is forced to become a Geisha. She is then told to marry an american soldier who she quickly falls in love with. He is sent off to war and three years pass, during this time she bears his child as she anticipates his return. Eventually he returns home with a new fiance and they plan to take the child away with them, resulting in a heart- rending final scene.
The leading lady, Butterfly, played by Rachel Gillespie shys away from Naval Officer Pinkerton. Gillespie’s flexibility and fluidity is outstanding, the emotion in her movements are effectively reflected in her face as her acting is superb. The chemistry she has with Pinkerton played by Javier Torres is evident particularly throughout their passionate and emotive duet.
Suzuki, Butterfly’s Maid played by Ayami Miyata protects and supports Butterfly. They perform a beautiful duet in the second act, mesmerising the audience with their poise and elegance. As the dance grows dynamically, rose petals begin to fall from the sky, which is a captivating moment in the show.
As the lights singe red, the final scene is treacherous and heartbreaking which is reflected in Butterfly’s movements. Each movement is strong and striking, almost mirroring a martial arts fighter. The closing dance is powerful and moving, echoing the painful music that almost sounds like she is crying, it is dramatic yet utterly heartbreaking.
The music compliments Puccini’s original score perfectly, maintaining the operas famous arias without being obtrusive and overpowering. I did feel that despite the music being executed impeccably it wasn’t very loud therefore it lost a lot of power that it could have had.
Madame Butterfly’s has a distinct narrative creating a gripping and highly engaging performance. The simplicity of the performance was exceptional, there was no need for expressive set or lavish costume as the story is told through detailed and intricate movement forming a remarkable ballet and excellent piece of theatre.
Madame Butterfly is on until the 3rd of June at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, tickets are available here.