Japanese tragedy in three acts

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

Saturday, 19. January 2013
07:00 pm – 09:55 pm

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

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Musikalische Leitung
Manlio Benzi
Wolf Busse
Otto Stich
Silvia Strahammer
Stellario Fagone

Hui He
Okka von der Damerau
B. F. Pinkerton
Arturo Chacón-Cruz
Kate Pinkerton
Angela Brower
Levente Molnár
Goro Nakodo
Gregory Bonfatti
Der Fürst Yamadori
Christian Rieger
Onkel Bonzo
Goran Jurić
Rafal Pawnuk
Der Kaiserliche Kommissär
Andrea Borghini
  • 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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Manlio Benzi studierte am Konservatorium Arrigo Boito in Parma und am Konservatorium der Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rom. Nach ersten Gastdirigaten war er künstlerischer Direktor des Festivals Notti Malatestiane in Rimini. Er dirigierte u.a. das Orchester des Teatro La Fenice und das Orchester der Santa Cecilia in Rom und debütierte 2005 mit einem Konzertprogramm an der Scala di Milano. Gastdirigate führten ihn darüber hinaus u.a. an die Semperoper Dresden und an die Staatsoper Hamburg. Sein Repertoire umfasst Stücke wie Cavalleria rusticana, La traviata, Tosca, Rigoletto und Don Giovanni. Er ist außerdem als Komponist tätig und verfasst musikalische Essays und Kritiken für Ricordi Mailand sowie für das Istituto di Studi Verdiani in Parma. Dirigat an der Bayerischen Staatsoper 2012/13: Madama Butterfly.

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