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Madama Butterfly
Atto Primo
Atto Secondo
Atto Terzo
Madama Butterfly
  • Giacomo Puccini. Tragedia giapponese in two acts. 1903.
  • Libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica, after the play Madame Butterfly by David Belasco, based on John Luther Long's story, a work indebted to Pierre Loti's Madame Chrysanthème.
  • First performance at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan, on 28th May 1904.
Cio-Cio-San (Madame Butterfly) soprano
Suzuki, her maid mezzo-soprano
F. B. Pinkerton, Lieutenant in the American navy tenor
Sharpless, American consul in Nagasaki baritone
Goro, a marriage-broker tenor
Prince Yamadori tenor
The Bonze, Cio-Cio-San's uncle bass
Yakuside, Cio-Cio-San's uncle bass
Imperial Commissioner bass
Official Registrar bass
Cio-Cio-San's Mother mezzo-soprano
Cio-Cio-San's Aunt soprano
Cio-Cio-San's Cousin soprano
Kate Pinkerton mezzo-soprano
Dolore, Cio-Cio-San's child silent rôle

Goro, the marriage-broker, shows Lieutenant Pinkerton the house where he will live with Cio-Cio-San, after their marriage, and introduces the servants. Pinkerton explains to the consul Sharpless, who has joined him, that he has the house on a long lease, to be terminated at a month’s notice: his coming marriage is to be undertaken on similar terms, since he has no intention of continuing the relationship. Cio-Cio-San and her family arrive and the wedding takes place, interrupted by the Bonze, who curses her as a renegade. The company disperses, leaving Cio-Cio-San and Pinkerton alone together, as evening draws on. Three years later she awaits still the return of Pinkerton, who has never seen the son she has born him. Attempts are made by Goro to bring about another marriage, to Prince Yamadori. Eventually Pinkerton does return, having prepared Sharpless by a letter. He brings with him his American wife, and Cio-Cio-San kills herself with the knife that her father had used for his own death by imperial command.

Madama Butterfly is one of Puccini's most moving operas, its drama centred on Cio-Cio-San, whose childish innocence at her marriage and continued ingenuous faith are contrasted with the callousness of Pinkerton. Japanese melodies are used to provide an element of authenticity, with American musical references to mark Pinkerton's primary loyalties. There is a fine extended love duet for Cio-Cio-San and Pinkerton at the end of the first act, Viene la sera (Evening approaches), with her later Un bel dì vedremo (One fine day we shall see) among the best known of all Italian operatic arias. As Pinkerton's ship returns, she and Suzuki decorate the house with cherry-blossom, Scuoti quella fronda di ciliegio (Shake that cherry-tree branch), while the Humming Chorus provides an interlude before Pinkerton's delayed appearance, for which she has waited so long. He feels a touch of sorrow at what he has done, as he bids the little house farewell in Addio, fiorito asil (Farewell, happy home).


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