Puccini: Madame Butterfly

The Essence

Madame Butterfly is an opera tragedy of unequal love where one lover seriously devotes her whole existence while her partner just enjoys a pleasurable amusement.


 

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Puccini - Madama Butterfly; Sferisterio Opera Festival Macerata  

  

Puccini - Madame Butterfly (Callas, Gedda, Borriello, Danieli; Karajan)  

The Plot

Madame Butterfly is the story of a 15 year old Japanese girl named Ciocio-san which means Ms. Butterfly...

 ...A U.S. Lieutenant has an arranged marriage with her in Nagasaki with the intention to leave her as soon as he finds a proper American wife. Butterfly, who gives birth nine months after he leaves, is waiting for many years. Finally, his return is announced and she decorates the house for him. He arrives with his new wife with whom he agreed to raise the child. Seeing the decorated house, he notices his mistake and does not want to see Butterfly. Agreeing to give up her child if he comes to see her one last time, Butterfly says goodbye to her son, blindfolds him and places a small American flag into his hands. Then she cuts her throat. The American Lieutenant rushes in too late.

The Composition

The music of the Italian romantic opera Madame Butterfly was composed around 1904 by Giacomo Puccini (Italian, 1858-1924). The libretto was written by Guiseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica. The story is partially based on the short story Madame Butterfly by John Luther Long written in 1898. Puccini wrote five versions of the opera of which the last version became known as the Standard Version. It is one of the most often performed operas around the world.

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