Theater review: UFOMT’s ‘Madama Butterfly’ explores the effects of deception

Waldron Creative

Kristin K. Vogel as Cio-Cio-San and Nelson Ebo as Lt. Pinkerton in Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre’s production of “Madama Butterfly.”

“MADAMA BUTTERFLY,” through Aug. 8, Ellen Eccles Theatre, 43 S. Main, Logan (435-750-0300 or utahfestival.org)

One of the classic tragedies of opera, Giacomo Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” at Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre in Logan explores the morality of deception.

The lead deceiver is Lt. Pinkerton, a naval officer stationed in Japan, who, as he puts it, is enjoying himself without any risks. He marries a native teen bride, one who changes her religion from Buddhist to Christian in order to consummate the marriage. Meanwhile, Pinkerton toasts with his friend his future “real marriage in America” on the eve of his wedding with Butterfly.

As Pinkerton, UFOMT newcomer Nelson Ebo is despicable, as the role requires. His tenor tones are fabulous and timbre of his voice is penetrating, and his was a solid, appreciated performance. But the character’s morals cast a pall on all, making for an uneasy intermission.

As Cio-Cio-San, or the bride “Butterfly,” Kristin K. Vogel is outstanding, making her second season with the company memorable. She is able to incorporate perfect passion into her dynamics, going from hard to soft, not just loud to quiet.

During the cat-and-mouse pre-wedding night duets, both Vogel and Ebo were top-drawer in their performances. Perhaps because she was singing for her life, not for convenience as was Pinkerton, Cio-Cio-San/Vogel pierced…

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