OPERA and Ballet International presents Ellen Kent's production of Puccini's Madama Butterfly at the Grand Opera House, York, with international soloists, chorus and full orchestra on March 1 at 7.30pm.

Korean soprano Maria HeeJung Kim, from the National Opera House of Seoul, is making her British debut as the tragic Cio Cio San, having studied in Milan and sung Madama Butterfly at the Milan Opera and other major European opera houses.

Alyona Kistenyova, the international soprano from Odessa National Opera, is returning to Kent's cast after her performances of Aida, La Boheme, Carmen, Tosca and Die Fledermaus.

The tenor role of Pinkerton will be sung by either Ruslan Zinevych, who sang with Luciano Pavarotti, or the Ukranian Vitalii Liskovetskyi, from the Kiev National Opera. Liskovetskyi trained originally as a military pilot and made his debut on an Ellen Kent tour in 2015 in Carmen and Tosca.

The conductor of the 30-strong National Ukrainian Orchestra will be either Vasyl Vasylenko, artistic director and conductor at the National President's Orchestra of Ukraine, Kiev, or Nicolae Dohotaru, guest conductor and artistic director of the National Opera of Moldova.

Madama Butterfly tells the heart-breaking story of the beautiful young Japanese girl who falls in love with an American naval lieutenant; highlights include the melodic Humming Chorus, the moving aria One Fine Day and the unforgettable Love Duet. Look out for exquisite sets, including a Japanese garden, and fabulous costumes such as antique wedding kimonos from Japan designed by St Petersburg designer Felix Bessonov.

"My operas have to be emotional and beautiful," says Ellen. "As with any of my shows, all of the soloists have been hand-picked and directed by me to create a visually beautiful and moving production of Madama Butterfly."

Tickets are on sale on 0844 871 3024 or at atgtickets.com/york.


COURTESY of producer Ellen Kent, What's On has one print of Ralph Steadman’s Madama Butterfly to be won, valued at £550 and signed by the artist.

Steadman has been a patron of Opera and Ballet International for many years. Many of his opera illustrations were created for Ellen Kent or for Harry Enfield's Guide To Opera in the 1990s.

The beautiful Madama Butterfly print is A2 in size and is part of a short run, printed on Museum Quality Smooth Rag, the paper on which Steadman draws his originals.

Question: Who wrote the opera Madama Butterfly?

Send your answer, with your name, address and daytime phone number, either on a postcard to Charles Hutchinson, Butterfly Competition, The Press, 84-86 Walmgate, York, YO1 9YN, or by email to charles.hutchinson@nqyne.co.uk, marked Butterfly Competition, by next Friday. Usual competition rules apply.