Theatre Preview: Ellen Kent, Empire Theatre, Liverpool

Written By: Mark Armstrong

Introducing the celebrated soprano Maria HeeJung Kim from the Korean National Opera, Seoul and the international soprano Alyona Kistenyova with Vasyl Vasylenko, artistic director and conductor for the National President’s Orchestra of Ukraine, Kiev

Madama Butterfly is Puccini’s popular tale which the hit West End musical Miss Saigon is based. One of the world’s most popular operas, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly tells the heart-breaking story of the beautiful young Japanese girl who falls in love with an American naval lieutenant – with dramatic results. Highlights include the melodic Humming Chorus, the moving aria One Fine Day and the unforgettable Love Duet.

With exquisite sets including a spectacular Japanese garden and fabulous costumes including antique wedding kimonos from Japan designed by the renowned Russian designer Felix Bessonov, from St Petersburg.

International Korean soprano Maria HeeJung Kim from the National Opera House of Seoul will be making her debut in the UK singing the role of the tragic Cio Cio San. HeeJung Kim, the talented young star studied in Milan and has made her debut as Madama Butterfly at the Milan Opera. HeeJung Kim has sung Madama Butterfly and La Traviata at major Opera Houses in Europe.

Alyona Ki

 

stenyova, the international soprano from Odessa National Opera will be returning after her critically acclaimed performances of Aida, La Boheme, Carmen, Tosca and Die Fledermaus.

Ruslan Zinevych will be returning to sing Pinkerton. Zinevych has previously sung with Pavarotti and was highly praised in the UK singing the performances of La Traviata, La Boheme, Carmen, Tosca, Die Fledermaus.

Making his debut as Pinkerton in an Ellen Kent production is the Ukrainian tenor Vitalii Liskovetskyi from the Kiev National Opera. Liskovetskyi, originally trained as a military pilot, has made his debut on an Ellen Kent tour in 2015 in Carmen and Tosca, followed by a huge success in Aida, La Boheme and Nabucco.

Giorgio Meladze, the Spanish tenor, is invited to open the tour at Bristol Hippodrome, after a succesful tour of Aida, La Boheme and Nabucco and will be singing the parts of Pinkerton and The Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto.

Zara Vardanean, the American mezzo-soprano, trained at the Vienna State Opera, returns to sing the part of Suzuki.

Th

e operas will be conducted by Vasyl Vasylenko, who is the artistic director and conductor at the National President’s Orchestra of Ukraine, Kiev, and the guest conductor and artistic director of the National Opera of Moldova, Nicolae Dohotaru. With 30 members of the National Ukrainian Orchestra.

Madama Butterfly is the heart-breaking story of the beautiful Japanese girl, who falls in love with an American naval lieutenant, resulting in heart wrenching drama. This magnificent production boasts beautiful sets and costumes and a large live orchestra. Highlights of the performance include the melodic Humming Chorus, the moving aria One Fine Day and the unforgettable Love Duet.

Ellen said: “My operas have to be emotional and beautiful.”

As with any of Ellen Kent’s shows all of the soloists have been hand-picked and directed by Ellen to create a visually beautiful and moving production of Madama Butterfly.

Rigoletto is a dramatic tale of the jester’s daughter whose heart is stolen by a charming but unreliable ruler – and how her father’s attempts to prevent the love affair lead to tragedy. The opera was almost banned because it exposed the licentious behaviour of the powers-that-be at court. It is based on a play by Victor Hugo, who wrote Les Miserables, so Verdi has a libretto worthy of his talent.

This spectacular magnificently-staged production is inspired by the tradition of renaissance painting. Reflecting the sexual depravity of the Mantuan ducal court, the opera will feature seductive naked courtesans. When Hugo originally wrote the story it was called ‘The King Who Amuses Himself’, and it was banned, because of its sexual content – officially but in reality for political reasons as it made covert jabs at politicians of the time. Verdi turned the tragedy into an opera and tried to recreate the setting in a very licentious court. Although, entirely fitting for naked women to appear, it incurred the outrage of the censors and the rape scene in Verdi’s original version created an uproar at the time. The opera was banned after one performance until he agreed to remove the scene. He then battled with censors in Italy and renamed the Opera, Rigoletto.

The international baritones Vladimir Dragos and Iurie Gisca, will be starring beside the beautiful soprano Alyona Kistenyova, the international soprano from Odessa National Opera who is returning after her critically acclaimed performances of Aida, La Boheme, Carmen, Tosca and Die Fledermaus to sing Gilda.

Making his debut as The Duke of Mantua in an Ellen Kent production is the Ukrainian tenor Vitalii Liskovetskyi from the Kiev National Opera. Liskovetskyi, originally trained as a military pilot, has made his debut on an Ellen Kent tour in 2015 in Carmen and Tosca, followed by a huge success in Aida, La Boheme and Nabucco.

Giorgio Meladze, the Spanish tenor, is invited to open the tour at Bristol Hippodrome, after a succesful tour of Aida, La Boheme and Nabucco.

Zara Vardanean, the American mezzo-soprano, trained at the Vienna State Opera, returns to sing the part of Flora and Annina.

The operas will be conducted by Vasyl Vasylenko, who is the artistic director and conductor at the National President’s Orchestra of Ukraine, Kiev, and the guest conductor and artistic director of the National Opera of Moldova, Nicolae Dohotaru. With 30 members of the National Ukrainian Orchestra.

Wishing to reproduce Verdi’s original intentions Ellen Kent has included beautiful naked women on stage and has tastefully reintroduced the rape scene. Also appearing will be the magnificent golden eagle, (UK only) last seen in Kent’s Tosca and two regal hunting dogs.

Featuring the two of the most celebrated tenor arias La Donna è Mobile and Questa o Quella justly turned into classics by Caruso, Rigoletto is based on a play by Victor Hugo, who wrote Les Miserables.