Cio-Cio-San, the young Japanese bride of dashing American officer Lieutenant Pinkerton, finds her romantic idyll shattered when he deserts her shortly after their marriage. She lives in hope that one day he will return.
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Giacomo Puccini was entranced by David Belasco’s play Madame Butterfly when he saw it in London in 1900. Harnessing the talents of librettists Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, he adapted the powerful tale of a Japanese girl’s love for an American naval officer for the opera stage in 1904. Although the premiere at La Scala, Milan, was poorly received, it was revised and restaged the same year to great acclaim. Madama Butterfly has gone on to become a hugely popular opera with performers and audiences.
The rich colours and romantic exoticism of 19th-century European images of Japan inspired Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s production. Against an elegant backdrop, Cio-Cio-San expresses her radiant happiness in ‘Ancora un passo’. And in ‘Un bel di vedremo’ she movingly longs for the ‘fine day’ when her husband, Pinkerton, will return to her. Puccini drew on Japanese folk melodies for one of his most evocative and lyrical scores.