Japanese tragedy in three acts

Composer Giacomo Puccini · Libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa
In Italian with English and German surtitles

Saturday, 23. February 2002
07:30 pm – 10:25 pm

Duration est. 2 hours 55 minutes · 1 Interval between 1. Teil and 2. Teil (est. 08:30 pm - 09:00 pm )

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Musikalische Leitung
Jacques Delacôte
Wolf Busse
Otto Stich
Silvia Strahammer
Stellario Fagone

Tatjana Zaharchuk
Mihoko Fujimura
B. F. Pinkerton
Keith Ikaia-Purdy
Kate Pinkerton
Victoria Safronov
Alan Opie
Goro Nakodo
Ulrich Reß
Der Fürst Yamadori
Jan Zinkler
Onkel Bonzo
Karl Helm
Rüdiger Trebes
Der Kaiserliche Kommissär
Hermann Sapell
Der Standesbeamte
Gerhard Auer
Die Mutter der Cio-Cio-San
Barbara Rohlfs
Die Base
Anja Augustin
Die Tante
Barbara Schmidt-Gaden
  • Bayerisches Staatsorchester
  • Chorus of the Bayerische Staatsoper

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The U.S. Forces show their presence world-wide: American Lieutenant Pinkerton has an affair in Nagasaki with Cio-Cio San, "Madame Butterfly". He sails away. She then has his child. Three years later he returns to Japan – accompanied by his American wife and wants to take the child with him. Butterfly commits suicide.


Act I

The U.S. naval officer Pinkerton, along with a marriage broker named Goro, comes to inspect a house near Nagasaki he has bought to live with the geisha Butterfly, whom he plans to marry according to Japanese law. This law however allows him to abandon his wife whenever he feels like it. He casually brushes off the warnings of the American Consul Sharpless, who has told him that Butterfly takes love and marriage very seriously. Before Butterfly appears, he drinks a toast "to a future marriage with a genuine American woman". Butterfly now appears with her friends, attended by members of her family. Hardly has the marriage ceremony ended when Butterfly's uncle arrives and curses the girl for having renounced the faith of her ancestors. Cast out by all the others, all Butterfly has left is her great love.

Act II

Three years have passed. After a brief period of happiness, Pinkerton has left Butterfly. She lives with her servant Suzuki, confidently waiting for her husband's return, although she has not received a single sign of life from him. The consul comes to visit Butterfly. He explains to her that Pinkerton will never return. He cannot bring himself to tell Butterfly that he has married an American woman. Then she triumphantly shows him Pinkerton's child. Sharpless leaves the house after advising her to marry the rich Yamadori who has been courting her. She however feels bound to Pinkerton and refuses. Then the cannon in the harbor goes off. Butterfly recognizes Pinkerton's vessel. Full of hope, she decorates the room and waits in her bridal gown for her beloved.


Morning dawns. Butterfly has been waiting in vain all night. Finally she goes into the next room with the child in her arms to get a little rest. Pinkerton and Sharpless arrive. Suzuki finds out the whole story. Lamenting, she promises to prepare Butterfly for the worst. Full of remorse, Pinkerton goes running off. Awakened by the sound of the voices, Butterfly returns to the room: full of hope she looks for Pinkerton. Suddenly a strange woman appears. Butterfly discovers the truth from Sharpless. As if this weren't enough - they want her to turn over her child. All that remains for Butterfly is death.

English translation by Donald Arthur

© Bavarian State Opera

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Premiere of Giacomo Puccini's "Madama Butterfly" on June 5, 1973 in the Nationaltheater 

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Geboren in Frankreich; Ausbildung am Pariser Conservatoire und an der Wiener Musikakademie bei Hans Swarowsky. 1971 Gewinner des Mitropoulos Wettbewerbs, in der Folge Assistent von Darius Milhaud und Leonard Bernstein. Er dirigierte die wichtigsten amerikanischen Orchester wie die New Yorker Philharmoniker, die Orchester von Cleveland, Pittsburgh und San Francisco, sowie die Wiener Philharmoniker, das Orchestre National de Paris und das Israel Philharmonic. Sein Operndebüt gab er an der Wiener Staatsoper. Gastspiele an den Opernhäusern von Berlin, Hamburg, Zürich, Barcelona, München, Paris folgten. Seit zwanzig Jahren ist er ständiger Gastdirigent am Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London, wo er auch die drei großen Symphonieorchester leitete. An der Bayerischen Staatsoper dirigierte Opern: Werther, La bohème, La traviata, Madama Butterfly, Manon Lescaut und Carmen.

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