The Malta Independent 2 December 2023, Saturday
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A new Madama Butterfly for Gozo’s Aurora Opera House

Sunday, 24 September 2023, 17:31 Last update: about 3 months ago

The Madama Butterfly of 7 January 1977 in Gozo marked a historic event - the first of what was to become a genre in its own might - known to us today as Opera in Gozo, brought to us, in good part thanks to the Philharmonic Societies of Victoria. And as it celebrates its 160th anniversary (since 1863), the Leone Philharmonic Society turns, once more, to this Puccini evergreen. Hence, Madama Butterfly returns to the Aurora on Saturday 14th October 2023 in a mesmerising production designed by Luke Azzopardi, directed and choreographed by Riccardo Buscarini and conducted by resident conductor Colin Attard.


The Aurora Opera House chose to bring Cio-Cio-San's story to life with a bill of formidable artistes. Italian soprano Federica Vitali, in the title role, is one of the current emerging eminent stars on the European platform of opera. She brings vocal prowess with charm and flair. She will be flanked by Mikheil Sheshaberidze, in the role of Pinkerton. The Georgian-born tenor is fitting his Malta debut amidst other notable roles in major European capitals, following successful appearances in notable venues such as the Verona arena, the San Carlo in Naples and the major operas in Malmo, Zagreb, Cagliari, Bucharest and others. Mezzo-Soprano Manuela Custer, appearing as Suzuki, brings with her the verve and quality of the most prestigious opera houses and concert halls all over the world such as Monaco, Venice, Salzburg, Vienna, Florence, Madrid, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Rome, Paris and London apart from the solid experience of someone who has worked with the likes of Chailly, Lopez-Cobos and Luisi amongst others. Baritone Piero Terranova makes it three with Sharpless, after bagging a successful Amonasro in Aida and Giorgio Germont in La Traviata in October 2022 and April 2023 both at the very same Aurora Opera House. The 2023 Madama Butterfly will also include a fine selection of the nation's opera's oeuvre as Cliff Zammit Stevens sings Goro, Gozitan-born Stanley Portelli sings Yamadori, Louis Andrew Cassar sings Bonzo while Claire Ghigo takes on the role of Kate Pinkerton.

But the Aurora has also heavily invested in having Madama Butterfly 2023 making a bold aesthetic statement. To this end, the theatre forged an interesting collaboration with fashion designer Luke Azzopardi who, together with Stage Director and choreographer Riccardo Buscarini has created an original production that will last long in the memory of the Maltese opera audiences for the compelling and striking aesthetic impact it is set to make.

Madama Butterfly is "the quintessential opera for any fashion designer to work on because it has a sort of paradoxical power" says Luke Azzopardi. The physical presence of the bodies on stage shall blend with the fecund terrain on which they stand. The creative team behind the production promises beautifully simple and self-explanatory show, but most of all, one that allows the expression of precise aesthetic intention. Nature becomes a mirror reflecting human longing.

A limited number of tickets for this one-time performance on Saturday 14 October now remains, available online via or via the ticket helpline +356 79045779. The Aurora Opera House is supplementing the actual opera experience with a number of complements, including an exclusive vin d'honneur reception during the break and the options of Premium Boxes inclusive of champagnes and wines. All details available on the website or through the ticket helpline.

Madama Butterfly is being supported by the Investment in Cultural Organisations - Gozo programme, by Arts Council Malta and the Ministry for Gozo.

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