MADAME BUTTERFLY RETURNS
libretto by Andrew G Marshall music by Michael Finnissy.
Landor Theatre 70 Landor Road SW9 9PH To 22 November 2015.
Wed-Fri 8pm Sat & Sun 3pm & 6pm.
Runs 1hr 45min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7737 7276.
Review: William Russell 11 November.
The tragic aftermath of a love affair.
Ignacio Jarquin gives a bravura and heart-rending performance as Madam Butterfly’s son Tomisaburo in this one-man opera, first seen at the Edinburgh Fringe, now making its London debut.
Jarquin, who also directs himself, uses elements of Japanese Noh theatre, including masks, for his staging and his performance is offset by Michael Finnissy’s intriguing score, all plangent ’cello sounds and a wailing flute backed by percussion.
It is a stark affair – the set consists of a handful of screens – with Jarquin holding stage as all the characters in the story. Tomisaburo has gone to the United States to meet his father, Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton, now the governor of Georgia and seeking re-election on a white racist platform.
He ends up waiting in the hall of the Governor’s mansion, denied admission, the Governor’s wife – the power behind the throne as Pinkerton is, as in Puccini’s opera, weak – insisting he cannot meet this mixed-race person who claims to be his son.
As for Tomisaburo’s kindly landlord, he tells him that while the governor may well be his father sailors did what sailors always did and fathered children while abroad who they never recognised and that is the way of the world. It is a sad tale, told very powerfully, although it might benefit from being condensed into a one-act format.
Jarquin rises to the challenges of the score brilliantly and conjures up the other players in this sad tale of what came next with skill. The Landor is not the ideal venue as this opera, which is quite different from its usual fare of rather well staged fringe musicals, is probably not to the taste of the regular audience. It is, however, very well worth the trip to Clapham North.
Guriba Tomisaburo: Ignacio Jarquin.
Music Ensemble: Helen Whitaker (flute), Abigail Hayward, Yoanna Prodanova, Anna-Helen McLean (’cellos); Calle Hough, Beth Highham-Edwards (percussion.
Director: Ignacio Jarquin.
Designer/Costume: Satoshi Date.
Lighting: Philip Sugg, Amanda Davidson.
Choreographer: Akiko Ono.
Associate director: Anna-Helen Mclean.