Madama Butterfly

Japanese Tragedy in 3 acts
by Giacomo Puccini
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Libretto by

Luigi Illica e Giuseppe Giacosa

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Music by

Giacomo Puccini

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Arena di Verona

Madama Butterfly will be performed six times in the famous stage design by Franco Zeffirelli.

Conductor Jader Bignamini

Director and Set Designer Franco Zeffirelli

Costume Designer Emi Wada

Coreographer Maria Grazia Garofoli

Chorus Master Vito Lombardi


Arena di Verona Orchestra, Chorus and Technical Team

ACT I

The American fleet has stopped at Nagasaki. On the hill that dominates the port, Goro, a marriage broker, leads Lieutenant Pinkerton into a curious, makeshift house. It is the house that Pinkerton has just bought as a temporary love nest. Through Goro, he has, in fact, bought a woman to marry, very cheaply, according to Japanese custom: a young geisha, Cio-Cio-San, called “Butterfly”. While waiting for the bride to arrive, Pinkerton is presented to the servants, including Suzuki, Butterfly’s maid.

Sharpless, the American Consul, arrives. Pinkerton explains that the girl’s ingenuity intrigues him and that this marriage is just a game; after all, he can reject her whenever he wants. The Consul, struck by this mixture of cynicism and superficiality, gives him a good dressing-down. In reply, Pinkerton drinks to the day he will really marry, an American.

Butterfly enters the scene accompanied by friends and relations. She introduces every one of them to him and recounts that her mother is poor, her father dead and that is why she has had to resign herself to life as a geisha. On the side, she reveals, maliciously, that she is only fifteen years old and adds that, unknown to her family, she has become a Christian so that they will be able to pray to the same God.

The marriage is celebrated by an Imperial Commissioner, but the celebration is ruined by the arrival of Cio-Cio-San’s uncle, Bonzo who, before the dismayed relations, curses his niece for having denied her faith. Infuriated by the interruption and ensuing hullabaloo, Pinkerton orders everyone to leave and seeks to console the weeping girl who is now desperate because she has been abandoned by her family. Butterfly is, however, easily consoled and goes into a reverie. As night falls, Pinkerton pulls her close to him, hugging her passionately, overcoming any resistance on her part, and leads her into the house.

ACT II

1st Part

Suzuki begs Cio-Cio-San to stop crying. Three years have passed and Pinkerton, having returned to America (but promising to return in the spring) has not been in touch with her. Despite Suzuki’s attempts to open her eyes, Butterfly continues to wait for him with indestructible trust.

Sharpless arrives, accompanied by Goro. He brings a letter from Pinkerton which announces his imminent arrival and asks Sharpless to let Butterfly know that he has remarried, an American. The Consul is about to read the letter aloud when Prince Yamadori, a rich suitor who wants to marry Cio-Cio-San, arrives. Despite being on the verge of poverty, however, Butterfly is deaf to any marriage proposal. After Yamadori leaves, Sharpless reads the letter, but Butterfly constantly interrupts him and deliberately misunderstands Pinkerton’s words. Filled with pity for her, the Consul lacks the courage to go on and tries to make her understand the truth by changing tactics: what would she do should Pinkerton not return, he asks her. She replies firmly that she has two options: either to return to her previous life as a geisha or to die. Sharpless advises her to think about herself and marry Yamadori, a rich man. He tries to persuade her, bring her back to reality, but when she presents him with her fair-haired son, clearly Pinkerton’s son, he gives up and goes away, deeply disturbed.

A cannon shot announces that the warship has arrived in port. Looking through a telescope, Cio-Cio-San recognizes it. It is Pinkerton’s ship, the “Abraham Lincoln”. Joyfully, she decorates the house with flowers, puts on her wedding dress and together with Suzuki and her son, prepares to wait the whole night long for Pinkerton.

2nd Part

It is now dawn and Pinkerton still hasn’t arrived. Suzuki persuades Cio-Cio-San to go and rest with the boy. Shortly afterwards Pinkerton arrives, along with his wife, Kate and Consul Sharpless. Having been informed of the existence of his son, he now wants to take him back to the U.S.A. with him. The Consul asks Suzuki to help them prepare Cio-Cio-San for the shock, but the woman cannot sum up the courage to do so. Overcome with remorse, Pinkerton leaves the house full of memories and cowardly goes without seeing Butterfly.

On hearing voices, Cio-Cio-San enters, expecting to find Pinkerton. Instead, she sees Sharpless and a foreign woman and immediately understands everything. She neither cries nor screams. Calmly, she listens as the request is made. She agrees to hand over her son provided that his father come and collect him personally.

Alone, once more, Butterfly prepares her hara-kiri: a final heart-rending goodbye to her son, and as he goes back to playing, she stabs herself with the dagger her father had used to commit suicide. She dies as Pinkerton arrives, calling her from afar.

CIO-CIO-SAN
Oksana Dyka (8, 13, 22/7)
Sae-Kyung Rim (29/7)
Hui He (11, 19/8)

SUZUKI
Silvia Beltrami (8, 13, 22/7)
Anna Malavasi (29/7 – 11, 19/8)

KATE PINKERTON Alice Marini

F.B. PINKERTON
Marcello Giordani (8, 13, 22/7)
Gianluca Terranova (29/7 – 11, 19/8)

SHARPLESS
Alessandro Corbelli (8, 13/7)
Stefano Antonucci (22, 29/7 – 11/8)
Alberto Gazale (19/8)

GORO Francesco Pittari

PRINCE YAMADORI Nicolò Ceriani

THE BONZE Deyan Vatchkov

THE IMPERIAL COMMISSIONER Marco Camastra

THE OFFICIAL REGISTRAR Dario Giorgelè

CIO-CIO-SAN'S MOTHER Tamta Tarieli

CIO-CIO-SAN'S COUSIN
Marina Ogii (8, 13, 22/7)
Elena Borin (29/7 – 11, 19/8)