What is most enjoyable about the ballet is the reality of the spectacle before your eyes, the sound of a leather sole as it hits the floor of the stage. How the weight of one person can sound so graceful and light. It emphasises the skill of the performers and celebrates their artistry. Years of intense training go into the profession and it's clear to see that all members of Northern Ballet are devoted to their life choice.
This evening the company are performing Madame Butterfly with Perpetuum Mobile. The latter is a short classical piece which the audience are treated to at the start of the evening. Simple, beautiful, and elegant, the performance is seamless. The live orchestra, conducted by Nathan Fifield, provide magic and enchantment. The combination of both music and movement is a recipe of perfection; with minimal effort the performers showcase faultless turns and stunning pointe work. With straight legs and perfect poise the choreography of David Nixon OBE shines.
With warm overhead light and Oriental tones Madame Butterfly begins. The piece is classic, performed traditionally the audience are transported to a far away culture - one of decorative dress, elaborate tapestries, and ornate fans where painted geishas charm and allure visiting Service Men.
Butterfly (played exceptionally well by Rachael Gillespie) is endearing, shy and naive with a childlike innocence. A delicate flower, she is forced to bloom by Officer Pinkerton (played by Javier Torres). Pinkerton is masculine and handsome. The pair make an attractive couple and the development of their relationship is well portrayed. The post marital seduction is stunningly beautiful, tender and sweet. A mutual respect and admiration is discovered as Butterfly breaks free from her cocoon with delightful expression; she floats in the arms of Pinkerton like a single blossom being carried by a Summer breeze.
The finale is devastating. A victim of circumstance, Butterfly is a powerless mother who determines her own fate. Compelling and dramatic the audience anticipate the tragedy but the final deed never ceases to shock.
Though it would have been nice to see a modern take on a classic tale the piece was captivating, visually striking, and timeless.
Northern Ballet's tour of Madame Butterfly with Perpetuum Mobile continues at Wolverhampton Grand until 3 June, before moving on to Leicester's Curve Theatre 5-6 June, followed by Richmond, Bromley, Stoke, Aylesbury, and Hull. For more information on the rest of the tour visit www.northernballet.com.
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