Lovers of music, Mozart and opera can enjoy all three attending the performances by the Burnaby Lyric Opera company in their production of Le Nozze de Figaro at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts.

With a minimal set, but elaborate costumes, the company re-creates what some of the original performances of this comic opera must have been like, in the Shadbolt's intimate setting, with singers who not only have excellent voices but good comedic acting.

Music director Michael Onwood single-handedly provides the entire accompaniment, and you forget you are not hearing an entire orchestra. 

Jordon Collato's Figaro is young and lively with a warm bass-baritone voice, while Andrey Andreychik's baritone delivers Mozart with verve and style as the randy count. 

Chloe Hurst is the lively Susanna, with a clear, true voice. Gina McLellan-Morel as the countess delivers a beautiful, wistful aria, as does Simone McIntosh as the lovelorn page, Cherubino.

It's all about true love, obstacles in its way, and complicated plots within plots to achieve its happy end.  

The surtitles are clear and make the plot and conversations easy to follow.   With an good cast of supporting characters, all with excellent voices, this is a great chance to see a good opera production right here at home. 

The show continues, with 2 p.m. matinees on Feb. 24 and 26, and evening productions on Feb. 27 and March 1. 

Tickets from the Shadbolt box office, 604-205-3000, or

© Burnaby Now

Annie Boulanger / Burnaby Now

February 24, 2014 03:33 PM

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Review from Burnaby Now

Review from Opera Canada

Burnaby Lyric Opera in association with Shadbolt Centre for the Arts
Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini

Dates and Venue February 21, 26 & 28 at 8pm & February 23 & 25 at 2pm | James Cowan Theatre, Shadbolt Centre for the Arts, Burnaby

Cio-Cio-San Gina McLellan Morel B. F. Pinkerton Nicolas Rhind Sharpless Geoffrey Schellenberg Suzuki Francesca Corrado

Director Adam Da Ros Set Designer Richard Berg Costume Designer Rose-Ellen Nichols Lighting Designer Conor Moore Musical accompanimentDavid Boothroyd Stage manager Collette Brown

Sung in Italian with English SURTITLES™

Reviewer John Jane

Giacomo Puccini’s exquisitely tragic Madama Butterfly is an incredibly affecting story of ill-fated romance. Although first performed over a hundred years ago, its central themes of witless betrayal and unrealistic expectations of marriage are just as relevant today.

Madama Butterfly’s simple, yet touching storyline is set in Nagasaki, Japan where a fifteen year-old local geisha falls in love with an arrogant, selfish American naval officer. They embark on a brokered marriage that the officer, Lieutenant Pinkerton believes, even encouraged by Goro the marriage broker, to consider as revocable with one month's notice. Cio-Cio-San (Butterfly) however, understands it very differently. She unconditionally accepts her American suitor’s love for real, even forsaking her family and Buddist faith to become a devoted wife. Predictably, the one-sided love affair ends in disaster. Pinkerton leaves for the United States with a promise to return to Cio-Cio-San. However, three years pass before his promise is fulfilled and then he is accompanied by his American wife.

Soprano Gina McLellan Morel doesn’t possess the physicality of a fifteen year-old Japanese girl, but she has a fine voice and gives an impassioned performance as Cio-Cio-San occupying the stage for almost the entire performance. Her singing is athletic and passionate and her movement reveals the nuances of a naïve girl. She delivers her showpiece aria, Un bel dì, vedremo flawlessly and Tu? Tu? Picolo Iddio as she bids a tearful farewell to her son with pathos.

Nicolas Rhind plays the role of Pinkerton with nonchalant bravado. With a handsome stage presence, a natural swagger and fine tenor voice make him believable as the irresponsible lover. His tone and demeanour might suggest that he is seduced by Japan’s exoticism. This is evident in his agile interpretation of Amore o grillo at the beginning of act one, where, despite Consul Sharpless’ forewarning over his "convenient creed", he appears unaware of moral obligations.

Other notable performances are given by baritone Geoffrey Schellenberg as the compassionate Consul Sharpless and mezzo-soprano Francesca Corrado as Cio-Cio-San’s servant and faithful companion. Schellenberg’s singing was focused and his acting effective, while Corrado delivers heartrending angst in her measured and mellifluous voice.

Music director David Boothroyd carries out the musical accompaniment single-handedly on a Yamaha baby grand piano. Richard Berg’s set of hanging silk screens is simple yet efficient. The surtitles were easy to read without being obtrusive, but why did the translations go missing halfway through the second act?

Whether you’re an opera neophyte or a seasoned patron you will find something to enjoy in this production of Butterfly.

© 2015 John Jane

Review From Review Vancouver

If you are a music lover, and particularly of opera, you're really missing a treat if you haven't been taking in the Burnaby Lyric Opera productions at the Shadbolt.  As well as presenting attractive productions with excellent voices, there are other advantages.

Let me list some:  First, you don't have to drive through downtown Vancouver traffic and pay exorbitant parking rates. You can park right next to, or under, the Shadbolt Centre. Secondly, there's not a bad seat in the 250-seat theatre, and the visibility and acoustics are excellent. Thirdly, the surtitles above the stage are clear and easy to read. I could go on, but I will just add that there is also an excellent small coffee shop just as you enter, or leave the theatre.

The show currently playing there, Puccini's Madama Butterfly, is set in Japan, and set designer Richard Berg  has cleverly used hanging shoji screens, to act as walls of a house, or windows, then backlit to show scenes in silhouette, as well as a turning dais to hide or reveal scene changes. The costumes by Rose-Ellen Nichols are authentic kimonos and uniforms, colourful to contrast with the more sober kimonos of the servants.

Musical director David Boothroyd's  excellent piano accompaniment underlines the singing beautifully, and he not only plays with both hands, he seems to find another to direct the actors onstage, almost unobtrusively.  The humming chorus in the third act was beautifully done by the chorus.

Gina McLellan Morel as the betrayed teen-ager Cio-Cio San (Madama Butterfly), gives a sensitive portrayal that highlights her powerful soprano. Nicolas Rhind as the American ship's cocky officer Pinkerton, who goes through a marriage ceremony with Cio-cio San, to enjoy her favours, has a strong tenor voice that blends well with the excellent baritone of the caring American consul, well sung and acted by Geoffrey Schellenberg.

The role of Madama Butterfly's servant and confidant is played by Francesca Corrado, who grew up in the Burnaby Heights area. 

"It was my high school choir teacher at Notre Dame who encouraged me to go on to UBC and major in opera," she notes.

She's sung a variety of important roles at UBC, Bard on the Beach, Ontario's Western Arts Festival, and in the Czech Republic. 

"Suzuki is on stage for almost all of the whole opera, looking after props and helping Madama Butterfly dress in her complicated wedding kimono," Corrado says.

Her rich mezzo voice suits the role of the caring, serious Suzuki, whose passionate outbursts at the treatment of her mistress were very well played. Corrado expects to continue her  singing career and is looking forward to more appearances in the fall, to be announced.

Burnaby Lyric Opera's Madama Butterfly is on tonight (Thursday, Feb. 26) at 8 p.m., and winds up Saturday, Feb. 28 at 8 p.m.

Their next Opera Highlights on Sunday afternoon will be from La Spartana Generosa, and the their last concert of this season will be highlights from Mignon at the Shadbolt.

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Madama Butterfly impresses on Burnaby stage

Review from Burnaby Now