The 2024 tour of Ukrainian Opera & Ballet Theatre Kyiv under the direction of Ellen Kent should be welcomed by all those who love top-class opera and want to support this laudable enterprise.
The touring company brought Ellen Kent's award-winning production of Madame Butterfly, one of the world's most beloved operas, to Oxford New Theatre yesterday with Elena Dee (https://www.facebook.com/profile.php/?id=100063654596182)
in the very demanding title rôle.
We are familiar with this star soprano and her performance was just superb, combining sensitivity and poignancy with tremendous power and stamina.
Giorgi Meladze (https://www.operabase.com/artists/giorgi-meladze-6254/performances/en ) made a fine Pinkerton, tardily struck with remorse for his treatment of the girl he regarded as an exotic plaything.
The story has so many resonances and it is always acquiring new ones. Nowadays it is possible to see in the naive, ruthlessly exploited Butterfly a parallel with the victims of the growing surrogacy industry, a business which takes advantage of economic disparity to make poor girls in foreign countries breeders of babies for rich or same-sex couples. Before the current war started, Ukraine was a growing centre for this business and there is mounting pressure to legalize it everywhere.
Ellen Kent's productions are always aesthetically pleasing and beautifully choreographed, which is as it should be. Opera is a love-affair between all the arts and her company's awards are well deserved.
I would like to see her appear on stage at the end of every performance with the cast to receive applause and a massive bouquet of flowers.
For forthcoming venues on the tour see the website of Ellen Kent Opera International.