Giacomo Puccini • October 6, 9, 12, 14, 2018
Set in 1904 Japan, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly is often considered the pinnacle of operatic tragedy, and has become one of today’s most beloved operas.
The inspiration for the hit Broadway musical Miss Saigon, Madama Butterfly follows the tragic love story of the innocent, naive geisha Cio-Cio San and Pinkerton, a callous US naval officer.
Cio-Cio San, while still a teenager, forsakes her family, heritage, and religion for Pinkerton. But what she considers to be true love, he considers a casual fling. Cio-Cio San clings to the increasingly unrealistic belief that Pinkerton will return to her.
Madama Butterfly is unparalleled in its heart-wrenching portrayal of love, betrayal, and sacrifice. Accompanied by an achingly beautiful score, this opera promises to be an unforgettable experience.
Music Director Antony Walker conducts the Pittsburgh Opera Orchestra and Chorus. Linda Brovsky directs.
*Tyler Zimmerman: The Imperial Commissioner
Charlene Canty: Mother
**Judy Jenkins: Aunt
William Buchanan: The Official Registrar
Veronika Schmidt - Cousin
TBD - Trouble
The Artistic Team
Conductor - Antony Walker
Stage Director - Linda Brovsky
Scenic Designer - John Gunter
Costume Designer - Alice Bristow
Lighting Designer - Andrew Ostrowski
Stage Manager - Cindy Knight
Asst Stage Director - Matthew Haney*
Asst Stage Manager - Alex W. Seidel
Asst Stage Manager - Nick Garcia
Wig and Make-up Designer - James Geier
Asst Wig and Make-up Desiger - Nicole Pagano
Asst Lighting Desiginer - Todd Nonn
Prop Master - Johnmichael Bohach
Asst Conductor - Glenn Lewis
Chorus Master - Mark Trawka
Associate Coach/Pianist - James Lesniak
+ Pittsburgh Opera debut
* Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist
** Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist alumni
Production created for the L.A. Opera
Made available courtesy of Utah Symphony | Utah Opera
ACT I. Nagasaki, around 1900. U.S. Navy Lieutenant B. F. Pinkerton inspects the house he has leased for 999 years from a marriage broker, Goro. Included with the house are three servants including Suzuki, the maid. They are expecting the bride, Cio-Cio San, known as Madama Butterfly, whom Pinkerton has purchased for 100 yen. To the American Consul, Sharpless, Pinkerton describes the carefree philosophy of a sailor roaming the world in search of pleasure (Dovunque al mondo). For the moment, he is enchanted with the fragile Butterfly, but when Sharpless warns that Butterfly may not take her vows so lightly, Pinkerton brushes aside such scruples, saying he will one day marry a “real” American wife. Butterfly is heard in the distance joyously singing of her wedding (Ancora un passo or via). Entering surrounded by friends and family, Pinkerton’s fifteen-year-old bride tells him how she had to earn her living as a geisha when her family fell on hard times. In a quiet moment (Vieni, amor mio!), Butterfly displays her few possessions—including figures of her ancestors—and then reveals that she has converted to Christianity. The celebration is interrupted by Butterfly’s uncle, a Buddhist monk, who curses Butterfly for having renounced her ancestral religion. Pinkerton angrily sends the guests away. Alone with the distraught Butterfly, he dries her tears (Viene la sera) and they proclaim their love under the immense starry sky (Vogliateme bene, un bene piccolino).
ACT II, Scene 1. Three years later, Butterfly waits for her husband’s return. As Suzuki prays (E Izaghi ed Izanami), her mistress stands with her eyes fixed on the harbor. When Suzuki shows her how little money is left, Butterfly urges her to have faith—one fine day Pinkerton’s ship will appear on the horizon (Un bel dì vedremo). Sharpless brings a letter from the lieutenant, but before he can read it to Butterfly, Goro appears with a handsome and wealthy suitor, Prince Yamadori. Brusquely dismissing both broker and prince, Butterfly insists her husband has not deserted her. Sharpless tries again to read the letter and suggests Pinkerton may not return (Ora a noi). Butterfly triumphantly carries in her child, Trouble, proclaiming that as soon as Pinkerton knows he has a son he surely will come back. If he does not, she would rather die than return to her former life. Both moved and frustrated by her blind faith, Sharpless leaves without revealing the rest of the letter. Butterfly, on the point of despair, hears a cannon shot. Now delirious with joy on seeing Pinkerton’s ship entering the harbor, she orders Suzuki to help fill the house with blossoms (Flower Duet: Una nave de guerra). Expecting Pinkerton to come running, Butterfly settles down to wait with Suzuki and little Trouble (Humming Chorus: Coro a bocca chiusa).
Scene 2. When Pinkerton still has not arrived at dawn, Suzuki insists that Butterfly rest. Before long, Sharpless enters with Pinkerton and Kate, his American wife. When Suzuki realizes who the woman is, she tearfully agrees to aid in breaking the news to her mistress. Seized with remorse, Pinkerton bids an anguished farewell to the scene of his former happiness (Addio, fiorito asil) and then rushes away. When Butterfly comes in expecting to find him, she finds Kate instead. Guessing the truth, the shattered Butterfly agrees to give up her child if his father will return for him. Then, sending even Suzuki away, she takes out the dagger with which her father committed Seppuku and bows before a statue of Buddha, choosing to die with honor rather than live in disgrace. As she raises the blade, Suzuki pushes the child into the room. Sobbing farewell, Butterfly sends him into the garden to play, then stabs herself (Con onor muore). As she dies, Pinkerton is heard calling her name.
-Adpated from Opera News
We want you to have the best experience possible at our performances!
- Run time: 2 hours and 38 minutes including one intermission
- Understand Every Word: Madama Butterfly is sung in Italian, but has English supertitles projected above the stage at all performances
- Be sure to download the Madama Butterfly study guide
- Parking Downtown: get real-time parking availability
- Pre-Opera Talks before each performance
- Audio Description available at The Benedum Center
- Braille Programs available at The Benedum Center
- Large-Print Programs available at The Benedum Center
Listen to Pittsburgh Opera General Director Christopher Hahn give a brief synopsis of Madama Butterfly featuring excerpts from this 1974 Decca recording with Herbert von Karajan conducting the Vienna Philharmonic:
Click play below or download these excerpts for an offline treat!
- "Intermezzo"- performed by the Vienna Philharmonic
- “Dovunque al mondo”/ “America Forever”- sung by Luciano Pavarotti as Pinkerton
- "Ier l’altro il Consolato"- sung by Luciano Pavarotti as Pinkerton and Robert Kerns as Sharpless
- “Ecco. Son giunte al somme del pendio” - sung by Mirella Freni as Cio-Cio San
- "Ieri son salita tutta sola in segreto alla Missione"- sung by Mirella Freni as Cio-Cio San
- "Vogliatemi bene”- sung by Mirella Freni as Cio-Cio San and Luciano Pavarotti as Pinkerton
- "Un bel di vedremo”- Mirella Freni as Cio-Cio San
- "Che tua madre dovra prenderti in braccio”- sung by Mirella Freni as Cio-Cio San and Robert Kerns as Sharpless
- “Scuoti quella fronda di ciliegio”- sung by Mirella Freni as Madame Butterfly and Christa Ludwig as Suzuki
- "Coro a bocca chiusa”- sung by the Chorus
- "Addio fiorito asil”- sung by Luciano Pavoratti as Pinkerton and Rodger Kerns as Sharpless
- "Con onor muore”- sung by Mirella Freni as Cio-Cio San
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has implemented new security and bag policies, effective starting October 1, 2016, at the Benedum Center and their other venues.