SIGN UP for our newsletter ✉️ :

Get the latest stories delivered straight to you

Butterflies all round in fresh take on classic

There will be plenty of butterflies in the stomachs as well on the stage when the Perth International Arts Festival's keynote indoor production opens tonight.

The English National Opera co-production of Puccini's Madama Butterfly - a fresh take on an old classic by Oscar-winner Anthony Minghella - is the biggest opera presented by the Festival in its 63-year history.

"It is totally high-pressure and nerve-racking but everyone knows what they are doing," Festival classical music programmer Christopher van Tuinen said.

"It all feels really good, mainly because there is a lot of experience in this fantastic group of people."

English soprano Mary Plazas and conductor David Parry, both from the original production, are in Perth for the Australian debut of what was Minghella's only foray into opera before the director of The English Patient and The Talented Mr Ripley died in 2008.

Van Tuinen said this version, which includes puppetry and dancing led by Japanese fan dancer Ayano Honda, blew the dust off the tragic tale about a young Japanese girl whose heart is broken by an American sailor.

"What Minghella has managed to do is get as close as possible to the original story," Van Tuinen said.

"He has made it intimate and he has made it beautiful. It is a beautiful story and fantastic music, otherwise why would anyone keep remounting it?

"The great interpreters, the great directors, manage to find their way through all of that history and go back to the original essence."

The season sold out but a few extra tickets have been made available, ranging from $85 to $175.

The Festival has been bathing in the success of The Giants, which has had a flow-on effect into other events, including the Perth Writers Festival, which attracted record crowds of 44,000 people at the weekend.

Madama Butterfly has been co-produced with the Metropolitan Opera and the Lithuanian National Opera, with performers from the WA Opera Chorus and WA Symphony Orchestra.

It runs Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at His Majesty's Theatre until March 7.