Madame Butterfly takes flight one last time on April 3, wowing audiences with amazing voices and interesting staging. In case you’ve missed the Madame Butterfly love these past few weeks, we’ve collected a bunch of articles and a video for you to check out and see why Madame Butterfly is a Puccini masterpiece.
Get To Know Madame Butterfly
“The Humming Chorus” is a rare moment of peace in the tragic love story that is Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. In the scene, Butterfly does not sing or move for three minutes. She holds a silent vigil, waiting for Pinkerton (her American husband) to return, while an off-stage chorus sings wordlessly. “The Humming Chorus” carries an enormous amount of emotional weight, highlighted in LA Opera’s current production by director Lee Blakeley’s novel take on which character the scene belongs to.
In the fall of 1900, Giacomo Puccini sat in a London theater, mesmerized by a play entitled Madame Butterfly: A Tragedy of Japan. In the play, “Butterfly,” a Japanese geisha abandoned by her American naval officer husband, Pinkerton, awaits his return. Puccini immediately grasped the operatic potential in the play’s doomed love story and clash of cultures. Yet one scene in particular—created by the play’s writer, producer and director, David Belasco—inspired him most of all.
Perhaps one of the most vulnerable characters in opera history is Japanese geisha Cio-Cio-San in Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. In the opera, Cio-Cio-San marries American naval officer Pinkerton. She loves him, but abandons her and returns to the United States. “Un bel di vedremo” or “One Fine Day” is an aria she sings about waiting for Pinkerton’s return. She longs for the day when she will see the sails of his ship on the horizon and describes how she will wait for him to come to her rather than run down to greet him on shore. Three years later, Pinkerton returns – his new American wife in tow – and demands that Cio-Cio-San give up their son. (Tragic and heart wrenching – but that’s what opera is all about.)
Set designer Jean-Marc Puissant says creating a look for Madame Butterfly was a complicated thing. He didn’t want to go too kitschy or too modern, so archival photographs of Japan provided the guidance he needed. Here, Puissant, LA Opera Production and Technical Manager Michelle Magaldi, and LA Opera Technical Director Jeff Kleeman talk about creating a signature look for LA Opera’s Madame Butterfly.
Madame Butterfly Trailer
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