Madam Butterfly – Puccini

Raymond Gubbay programme, 1998

‘Every single word of Amanda Holden’s fine and easy new translation can be heard (and normally I reckon even opera in english needs subtitles).’
Independent on Sunday

Sung in English, in Amanda Holden’s authoritative and voice-friendly translation, this performance caught the audience early and held it.
Opera

This translation was commissioned by Raymond Gubbay for his Royal Albert Hall arena production.  The show, directed by David Freeman and conducted by Peter Robinson, opened in February 1998 and toured to the Sheffield Arena in October.

The production has been revived at the Albert Hall five times, most recently in February/March 2015, when it clocked up its 100th performance. The design by David Roger has been a consistent hit, with the arena a magical Japanese water garden in act one and the water drained away leaving  dry stones for Act II.

note: The translation exists in two alternative versions; both the final 1907 version, containing Pinkerton’s aria Addio fiorito asil, that is more usually performed, and the (original) 1904 version.

Mid Wales Opera programme 2011

Andante molto calmo – Un bel di… (aka ‘One Fine Day’)

BUTTERFLY
Suddenly we’ll see it, a wisp of pure white
smoke on the horizon, coming slowly nearer,
and then the ship appearing.
So we watch the frigate steaming into the harbour,
thundering her greeting. See that? What did I tell you?
I shall not go to meet him, oh no.
I’ll go and stand on top of the hill there just waiting,
I’ll wait ‘til the moment when he appears here, and I’ll be patient.
A speck emerges from the crowded city,
a tiny little figure who starts to climb the hillside.
Is it he? Is it he?
And when he’s getting nearer will he speak? Will he speak?
He will cry: `Butterfly!’ from in the distance.
I’ll be remaining silent and keeping myself hidden,
perhaps to tease him, but so as not to die when first I meet him,
and he in his anxiety will cry, he will cry:
`My poppet of a darling, my skylark, my starling’
remembering the nicknames he invented…
And I promise you this, for it will happen.
Cast out your needless worries,
I am prepared to wait here forever.