Ipswich Regent bound Madama Butterfly star’s thoughts are of war-hit homeland

Madama Butterfly

Madama Butterfly - Credit: Archant

Currently touring the UK as part of Ellen Kent Opera’s production of Madama Butterfly, Ukrainian singer Ruslan Zinevych’s mind is never far from his war-hit homeland.

Ellen Kent Opera Madama Butterfly, Ipswich Regent

Ellen Kent Opera Madama Butterfly, Ipswich Regent - Credit: Archant

Government forces and pro-Russian rebels have been locked in a bloody conflict in two eastern regions for months.

“My family fortunately lives in western Ukraine, which is pro-Ukraine and has nothing to do with the war. I know people in the war area, people I used to work with,” says Zinevych, who plays Pinkerton in the Puccini opera.

“I know many people from the Donetsk opera house which is not open any more, I knew the general manager very well who died.

“Some found jobs outside the area where the war is. (Much of life in the Ukraine) is normal, peaceful (but) people are suffering.

Ellen Kent Opera Madama Butterfly, Ipswich Regent

Ellen Kent Opera Madama Butterfly, Ipswich Regent - Credit: Archant

“Even though there is no physical war (in many areas) mentally the whole country is involved and the whole country is united against the invasion and seeks its independence from the Soviet Union.”

Preparing for this autumn’s tour with the Ukrainian National Opera in Kharkiv, award-winning producer Kent was caught just six miles from the civil war.

Most Read

Despite British Foreign Office warnings not to travel due to fatalities, bombings and kidnappings, she got the complete sets, props and costumes out of the area.

“I was in Odessa in rehearsals for Butterfly in 2005 when the Orange Revolution broke out and I just thought, here we go again,” she said.

“After all we’ve been through bringing them to the stage, it’s definitely been worth it.

“Three members of our orchestra have joined the Chisinau Philharmonic for this tour because the Opera house in Donetsk, near the fighting, has closed.

“People often don’t realise when they’re watching it on television the affect it has on ordinary people who still have to support their families. This is our way of fighting back, showing that whatever is happening over there, we will continues to showcase Eastern European talent and put on a tremendous show.”

Zinevych, from Odessa, doesn’t think the crisis will be resolved soon, fearing the fighting may even spread.

“It just all depends on one person. The whole world knows who’s to blame, as soon as he (President Vladimir Putin) decides to step back it could be resolved. I fear... It’s this big geopolitical game. As soon as we stop him it won’t spread.”

Madama Butterfly, the basis for West End musical Miss Saigon, is the true story of a Japanese girl who falls for an American naval lieutenant with dire consequences.

It visits the Ipswich Regent tomorrow.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter