Dark web of passion

From tomorrow, audiences in Sydney can look forward to a very different, much darker version of the legendary opera Madama Butterfly.

Opera Australia's 2019 digital season will open with choreographer Graeme Murphy's production of Giacomo Puccini's opera at the Sydney Opera House.

The show will run till Aug 10.

Madama Butterfly tells the story of 15-year-old Cio-Cio San (Butterfly) who is married to Pinkerton, a US naval officer. Pinkerton abandons her and his child, leading Butterfly ultimately to kill herself.

Murphy's version of the opera will contrast greatly with the long-running and much-loved Butterfly produced by director Moffatt Oxenbould that was retired in 2017 after 20 years, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. It will feature Cio-Cio San in shibari, or Japanese bondage, ropes.

"We've seen the rather pretty, cliched pseudo-oriental version and I wanted to avoid that... It's not a pretty story," said Murphy.

"It's not a nice story. It's not a kind story. Pinkerton is quite vile. This production has a nightmare element to it."

He hoped the audience will be "challenged, surprised, shocked - and pleased".

"Some will be intrigued, some will be repulsed, some will have a little smile," he said. "Maybe there will be something there that tickles their fancy?"

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 27, 2019, with the headline 'Dark web of passion'. Print Edition | Subscribe