Russian opera singer Elena Razguliaeva believes that to tackle starring roles such as Cio Cio San you have to become a part of her, see the world through her eyes and feel how she feels.

Elena is the principal singer in the tragic and passionate Puccini opera Madama Butterfly, which the Russian State Opera are bringing to Swindon's Wyvern Theatre on Tuesday, September 5 from 7.30pm.

Elena said: "In each role, there is a part of me in the character. It is impossible to sing and play the heroine if you have not lived her story together with her.''

Performing around the world with the State Opera is a dream come true for Elena, who began singing more than 20 years ago, studying choral conducting and voice lessons at the Musical College of Arts, before joining the Petrozavodisk Conservatory in Russia.

"Ever since I was a child I enjoyed classical music. I graduated from music school, where I completed all the grades for the piano, and really loved the choral singing, but to sing in the opera was my childhood dream,'' she said.

The singer has toured through America, Spain, Ireland and the UK, taking on the roles of Mimi in La Boheme, Violetta in la Traviata and now the iconic role of Cio Cio San. She has been with the Russian State Opera for eight years, but this is the first year she has worked with the well known producer Alexej Ignatow.

"We get to plan a long time ahead, so we have met on various occasions in Russia during the premier, and we have established a very good, professional relationship,'' said Elena.

Alexej belongs to the Amande Concerts Ltd who co-ordinate the UK tours. He is keen that all his operas are accessible to everyone. He aims to create productions with colourful sets and costume designs, informative programmes and English surtitles that make it easy to follow the Italian singing.

The producer said: "No experience is needed to enjoy these classics. We are constantly on the lookout for new challenges to ensure that our opera audiences experience a wide spectrum of various classic pieces and we deliver top quality productions to make new converts wherever we go.''

In Swindon, Madama Butterfly will have a 30-piece orchestra accompanying the singers as they tell the sad tale of a 15-year-old Japanese girl who falls in love with an American sailor. They marry against the wishes of her family, and he leaves in his ship soon after the wedding. Three years pass and Cio Cio San has given birth to a son and patiently waits for her husband to return, but unknown to her he has divorced her under Japanese law, and married an American woman.

Elena says this version of the powerful tale of love amongst two very different cultures is a classical production. "It has wonderful oriental colours which are unusually beautiful, and the strong sensual music by Puccini convey the whole palette of love, passion and drama,'' she said.

Starring alongside Elena as her young son will be Swindon actor, Ethan Jell, who is just six-years old and a member of Prime Youth Theatre. Ethan loves playing with his friends, riding his bike and scooter, watching films and playing Star Wars games on his PS3. He says he is thrilled to be a part of internationally acclaimed opera production.

Tickets to see Madama Butterfly at the Wyvern Theatre are £32 - £38 from 01793 524481 or visit - Flicky Harrison