Madame Butterfly at the Abbey Theatre, St Albans

PUCCINI’S Madame Butterfly will be fluttering into the Abbey Theatre next week to mark the 25th anniversary of St Albans Chamber Opera.

Nadine Mortimer-Smith and Emily Yarrow are sharing the title role of Cio Cio San, a young geisha known as Butterfly, who is deeply in love with the American naval Lieutenant B.F.Pinkerton, sung by Neil Simon, who has “married” her and then gone away.

Suzanne Joyce as Suzuki, Butterfly’s servant, and Oliver Gibbs as Sharpless, the US Consul, who both sing at English National Opera, make up the main quartet of professional singers. Also in the cast are popular Chamber Opera regulars Des Turner, Warren Albers and Alexandra McPhee.

Although all around her think Pinkerton will never return, Butterfly remains positive and optimistic truly believing that he will return to her, “one fine day”. When his ship arrives in the harbour, she and Suzuki deck the house with flowers and the famous Humming Chorus floats in the distance as they await his arrival.

Phyl Swindlehurst, one of the founders of the company, will be directing a main production for the last time. She said: “We are aiming to be as authentically Japanese as possible using traditional costume and building a Japanese house on stage. The opera will be sung in Amanda Holden’s English translation used recently at the Albert Hall.”

Fraser Goulding returns to conduct the chorus and orchestra in his own reduced orchestration.

Madame Butterfly runs from 7.30pm next Tuesday, March 20, until Saturday, March 24, and, for the first time there will be a Sunday matinee at 3pm on on March 25. Tickets at �17 (students �10) are available from the Abbey Theatre box office on 01727 857861.