MADAME BUTTERFLY Tel Aviv Opera House, July 16 Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly, performed at the Israeli Opera, directed by Keita Asari and with Ichiro Takada’s sets, mercifully avoided kitschy European-style Japonism, representing the foreign environment only via Japanese-style sliding doors and a Kyoto-style stone-andsand garden that had nothing to do with the plot. In the suicide scene, however, they could not avoid the traditional and unappetizing tomato ketchup coloring.In the title role, Ira Bertman’s expressive, pure soprano sounded rather too mature and sharp for an innocent, gentle 15-year-old girl. In Act II, though, when Cio Cio-san had matured indeed, her voice matched the role, and her aria “Un bel di” (“One fine day”) was one of the performance’s great highlights.As Pinkerton, Najmidin Mavlyanov’s radiant, wellshaped and significantly prolonged high tenor notes convincingly represented an American officer’s pride, haughtiness and arrogance – at least in the Italians’ eyes – though shortening and becoming almost human at last in his love duet with Butterfly, and expressing genuine remorse at the very end, when it was too late.Ionut Pascu’s dark-timbred baritone was a warm, friendly sharpless, sounding punishing when addressing Pinkerton at the end. His hesitant taking leave of Butterfly was more effectively moving than extrovert gesticulations could have been.Carlo Striulli’s vehemently cursing dark bass, as the Bonze, was reminiscent of Verdi’s “Maledizione” in Rigoletto. Conducted by Daniel Oren, the Symphony Orchestra Rishon Lezion emphasized dramatic moments, significantly preceding them with short, tension-mounting silences.