Live Cinema Season

Madama Butterfly (2017)

Recorded | Opera

Running time: About 3 hours, including one interval

Madama Butterfly (2017)

Antonio Pappano conducts an impressive cast led by Ermonela Jaho in Puccini’s deeply poignant opera.


The story

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.

Three years later, Cio-Cio-San and her little son see Pinkerton’s ship in the harbour. She excitedly expects his visit – but Pinkerton and his American wife Kate have come only to take the boy away, to raise him in America. Cio-Cio-San bids her son farewell and then takes her own life.


Giacomo Puccini was entranced by David Belasco’s play Madame Butterfly (based on a popular short story by John Luther Long) when he saw it in London in 1900. He harnessed the talents of librettists Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa (with whom Puccini had created La bohème and Tosca) to adapt Cio-Cio-San’s tragic tale for the operatic stage. Although the premiere at La Scala, Milan, in 1904 was poorly received, that same year Puccini revised and restaged the opera for performances in Brescia, to great acclaim. Madama Butterfly quickly became a hugely popular opera with performers and audiences alike, and remains one of Puccini’s most performed works.

Puccini drew on Japanese folk melodies for the score, one of his most evocative and atmospheric. In Act I, Cio-Cio-San expresses her radiant happiness in ‘Ancora un passo’, and the two lovers rapturously declare their love for each other in the passionate duet ‘Viene la sera’. In Act II the mood becomes increasingly strained, as in ‘Un bel dì vedremo’ when Cio-Cio-San longs for the ‘fine day’ when her husband will return to her. The romantic exoticism of 19th-century European images of Japan – an integral part of Madama Butterfly’s character – inspire Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s elegant production for The Royal Opera.



Giacomo Puccini


Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica


Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier

Set designer

Christian Fenouillat

Costume designer

Agostino Cavalca

Lighting designer

Christophe Forey

Performed by
The Royal Opera


Antonio Pappano
Ermonela Jaho
Lieutenant B.F. Pinkerton
Marcelo Puente
Scott Hendricks
Carlo Bosi
Elizabeth DeShong
Jeremy White
Kate Pinkerton
Emily Edmonds
Imperial Commissioner
Gyula Nagy
Prince Yamadori
Yuriy Yurchuk
Royal Opera Chorus
Concert Master
Sergey Levitin
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House

Madama Butterfly Digital Programme

Madama Butterfly Digital Programme

Digital Programmes bring together a range of specially selected films, audio clips, pictures, articles, features, news and information, as well as exclusives and updates, and highlights from the Royal Opera House website, YouTube, SoundCloud and Flickr pages. Features are added as the performances approach, to enhance your experience of a production.

Cast sheets

Cast sheets are available as PDFs

News and features

To find out more visit the Madama Butterfly (2017) production page.