Antonio Pappano and Renato Balsadonna conduct two great casts led by Ermonela Jaho and Ana María Martínez in Puccini’s deeply poignant opera.
Giacomo Puccini was a great admirer of David Belasco’s play Madame Butterfly when he saw it in London in 1900. He used the talents of librettists Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa 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.
The story centres around 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.
East meet West when Puccini used Japanese folk melodies for the score.. 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 inspire Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s production for The Royal Opera.
The performance lasts about 2 hours 45 minutes, including one interval
Sung in Italian with English surtitles
For more information , visit the Royal Opera House website here
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