Puccini and Verdi treat for opera fans at the Edinburgh Playhouse

The award winning producer Ellen Kent returns to Edinburgh this month with Puccini’s masterpiece, Madama Butterfly, and Verdi’s La Traviata and Rigoletto.

Madama Butterfly (Saturday 28th March) is Puccini’s popular tale which the hit West End musical Miss Saigon is based. International Korean soprano Elena Dee, whose emotional portrayal of Mimi in Ellen Kent’s recent La Boheme received such high praise, will be singing the role of the tragic Cio Cio San.  Zinevych who’s Rudolpho in La Boheme captured hearts and who has sung with Pavarotti returns with the 70 strong company to perform his Pinkerton. Making his debut as Pinkerton in an Ellen Kent production is the Spanish Tenor Giorgio Meladze. Originally from Georgia, he has acquired critical acclaim in Europe, singing in Milan, Spain and across Europe. Giorgio Meladze sang with Jose Carreras at the Austrian opera festival Tiroler Festspiele Erl this summer. Music is provided by the esteemed Chisinau National Philharmonic orchestra and conducted by Nicolae Dohotaru.

La Traviata (Friday 27th March) is Verdi’s outstanding interpretation of one of the most popular love stories of the 19thcentury, La Dame aux Camelias by Alexander Dumas, a tragic tale of searing passion and memorable music Dumas made no secret of the fact that his book and play were autobiographically based on his own affair with Marie Duplessis, who died in 1847 of tuberculosis at the age of 23. Starring opposite Alyona Kistenyova is Ruslan Zinevych the international Ukrainian tenor who sang many times in Italy including singing with Pavarotti.  Winner of many international awards, Ruslan has sung many times for Ellen over the last few years including her La Traviata at the Royal Albert Hall and continues to impress audiences with his passion and power. This operatic version of La Dame Aux Camelias tells the romantic story about the love and life of the courtesan, Violetta. Based on a true story, it tells of the passionate consumptive Violetta and her doomed love for the aristocratic Alfredo. There are many echoes of Verdi’s own life in Traviata and he threw himself into the music. This was also Verdi’s venture into operatic realism as was Rigoletto, rejecting distant historical settings. The highlights include the Brindisi, the best known drinking song in opera, the duet Un Di Felice and the haunting aria Addio Del Passato.

Rigoletto (Thursday 26th March)  is based on a play by Victor Hugo, who wrote Les Miserables, so Verdi has a libretto worthy of his talent. In keeping with Ellen Kent’s eye for detail and flair for the dramatic this production includes a highly praised chorus, full orchestra and handpicked soloists. The international baritone Vladimir Dragos, will be starring beside the beautiful soprano, Alyona Kistenyova from the Odessa Opera, singing Gilda together with the Spanish Tenor Giorgi Meladze. Also appearing will be the magnificent golden eagle, (UK only) last seen in Kent’s Tosca and two regal hunting dogs.

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