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Press Reviews 2014

‘an evening of sumptuous tunes, compelling emotions laid raw, and a near-flawless performance in the title role by South Korean soprano Hye-Youn Lee. What’s not to enjoy?’
Scottish Daily Express

 

 

‘The plaudits go to [Hye-Youn] Lee’s starkly convincing Cio-Cio San, a Butterfly whose child-like innocence and emotive singing in Act I give way to a more adult sorrow – and a lovely Un Bel Di – as she sits waiting for Pinkerton’s return on Yannis Thavoris’s fine Japanese house set.’
The Times ****
 

 

‘It’s a handsome period piece (designs by Yannis Thavoris), unsentimental enough to be stylish, perceptive enough to be mildly provocative, safe enough to be a classic…A strong cast is led by the magnetic Cio-Cio San. South Korean Hye-Youn Lee inhabits the role with absolute conviction and ideal nuance: she is wide-eyed and girlish-voiced in act one, ardent and womanly in act two, heartbreakingly dignified in act three. Hanna Hipp as Suzuki is likewise excellent, with a knowing, competent demeanour and a glowing mezzo timbre…Christopher Purves contributes an august Sharpless, while the chorus sing warmly and move gracefully.’
The Guardian ****

 

 

Christopher Purves was a convincing kindly uncle Consul…Jose Ferrero was an able and wonderfully unlikeable Pinkerton…there were strong performances from Jonathan May as the slighted Bonze and Andrew McTaggart as ardent suitor Prince Yamadori. Hanna Hipp as Suzuki sang with a lovely rich mezzo voice and really brought something special to the stage. The evening’s focus was of course on Hye-Youn Lee who gave a great performance, thrillingly pulliong out the stops for the big numbers, and completely devastating in the farewell to her son. In the pit, Marco Guidarini set his standards high’
bachtrack.com ****

 

‘From her first appearance, led on by her female relatives in bustles, Hye-Youn Lee’s grace and elegance as Cio-Cio San charms the audience…her voice fills the space with love, with joy, with despair. Those well-known arias sound fresh and new.
The Opera Critic

 

‘a fresh and arresting experience…One of the finest performances, thoughtful and compassionate, comes from Christpher Purves as the wise and well-intentioned Sharpless, Andrew McTaggart also brings plenty of character to cameo suitor Yamadori. Under Italian conductor Marco Guidarini, Puccini’s sumptuous score has energy and breadth’
The Scotsman ****

 

‘Korean soprano Hye-Youn Lee’s Butterfly is a joy to watch and listen to, growing in character from a shy infatuated girl to mature woman. Her optimistic conviction shines through in Un bel di and her anguished farewell to the boy is heartbreaking. Her voice has silk, silver and steel as needed. José Ferrero’s Pinkerton is robust, lyrical in the long impassioned love duet and when expressing remorse…Christopher Purves is outstanding as Sharpless, endowing him with great humanity. He’s seen it all before, but is visibly touched by Butterfly’s extreme youth and vulnerability. Hanna Hipp’s Suzuki is warm and supportive, her voice blending in the flower duet, and deeply moving when she realises her mistress’s fate. Both are perfect foils for Hye-Youn Lee’s brilliance. Adrian Thompson provided a little comic relief as Goro.
Overall this was crowd-pleasing performance with some memorable musical high spots, and excellent emerging artists to watch out for.’
The Public Reviews ****

 

‘The other notable contributors to this revival, rehearsed by Elaine Kidd, are Christopher Purves’s sharply observed American consul and the conductor Marco Guidarini, who energises and orchestra that has been starved of inspiration for too long. What impressed at Thursday’s opening night were not just Guidarini’s complete command of the idiom and his touch-tone control of dynamics, but also the sense he conveyed of a score that moves quickly and seamlessly. Puccini’s masterly orchestration really blossomed.’
Financial Times ***

 

‘South Korean Soprano Hye-Youn Lee as Cio-Cio San is outstanding in her role. Her voice just seems to float across the stage. There is nowhere for Butterfly to rest in this opera and the sheer amount of time that she is on stage must make this a very physically demanding role to play too. How someone so fragile looking has such stamina and vocal presence on stage is a mystery. Jose Ferrero as Lt Pinkerton is also in great vocal form and again this must be a very demanding role vocally. The very physical presence of Ferrero on stage make Hye-Youn Lee's Butterfly look even more fragile. Outstanding performances are also give by Christopher Purves as Consul Sharpless, and Hannah Hipp as Butterfly's devoted female servant Suzuki…This is a great production from Scottish Opera.’
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