.

Giacomo Puccini

Madama Butterfly

opera in three acts

Age 12+

Dates

Libretto: Luigi Illica, Giuseppe Giacosa based on the play Geisha by David Belasco
Musical director: People’s Artist of Belarus Tatyana Kolomiytseva
Director: Honoured Artist of the Republic of Belarus Oleg Moralev
Designer: Ivan Sanin
Costumes: Ivan Peshkur
Chorus master: People's Artist of Belarus, laureate of the State Prize of the Republic of Belarus Nina Lomanovich
Conductors:  recipient of the Francysk Skaryna Medal Andrei Galanov,  Aleh Lessoun, People’s Artist of Belarus, laureate of the State Prize of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Anissimov
Stage director: recipient of the Francysk Skaryna Medal Galina Galkovskaya
Running time: 2 hours 55 minutes with two intervals
Sung in Italian with Russian surtitles
Premiere: 29 November1953
Revival: 2 December 1965

12

Act 1
Pinkerton, an American naval lieutenant, is taking a look around the house he has rented, where he is soon to be wed to Cio-Cio-San (Madama Butterfly). Goro, a matchmaker, is helping him.
Wedding guests arrive, including Sharpless, the American consul (ambassador) and relatives of the bride. Realising that Pinkerton is not serious about the marriage, Sharpless tries to talk him out of going through with the ceremony, but to no avail: «Pick flowers where it is possible», retorts Pinkerton. Cio-Cio-San appears together with her kindred and friends. So strong is her love for Pinkerton, that she has adopted the Christain faith.
After the wedding, everyone leaves except for the newlyweds and Cio-Cio-San’s relatives. They all toast to the couple’s health, but are rudely interrupted by Zio Bonzo, Cio-Cio-San’s uncle. He is incensed at her actions and curses her for her betrayal (apostasy). The relatives join him in agreement. Pinkerton drives them away and promises his downcast and depressed wife to replace the relatives who have just deserted her.


Act 2
Soon after the wedding, Pinkerton left for overseas. Three years have now passed by. Dutifully and silently, Cio-Cio-San awaits her husband’s return. She argues furiously with Suzuki, her faithful maid, who believes foreign husbands never return.
Enter Sharpless and Goro. Sharpless has a letter with him from Pinkerton that tells that he has married an American woman. Sharpless begins reading the letter, but is not allowed to finish, for, as Cio-Cio-San hears that her husband is well and bound to return soon, she stops him.
Yamadori, a prince and suitor, enters. Goro has set up this possible match, but the prince is politely refused and withdraws. Sharpless advises Cio-Cio-San to accept the match and hints that Pinkerton might well not return. In desperation, Cio-Cio-San calls for her fair-headed little son and asks Sharpless to write a letter back to the father who knows nothing of the son’s existance. Somewhat agitated, Sharpless promises to write that a «lovely blue-eyed son is waiting for him».
A gunshot, announcing the arrival of an American ship in port, is heard. Pinkerton must surely be on it! Cio-Cio-San decorates the house with flowers, changes into her wedding dress and together with her son and Suzuki waits for his entrance.


Act 3
All night long they wait. No Pinkerton. Suzuki urges Cio-Cio-San to sleep. She finally relents and retires to her bedroom with her son.
Pinkerton now appears with his American wife and Sharpless. He has come to take away his son. Suzuki enquires after the woman, and Sharpless tells her who she is. Pinkerton is frightened of meeting Cio-Cio-San and charges Sharpless to do the dirty job. He leaves.
Hearing voices, Cio-Cio-San rushes, certain to find her husband. Of course he is nowhere, but she sees the woman and guesses her identity. Shaken to the core, Cio-Cio-San obeys her husband’s will and hands over her son to Sharpless. They leave.
The grief and dishonour is too much for her to bear and she kills herself. Pinkerton does return later only to find her cold body.

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