Madama Butterfly – Performed by The Ukrainian National Opera

Madama Butterfly – Performed by The Ukrainian National Opera

Madama Butterfly – Performed by The Ukrainian National Opera

Madama Butterfly – Performed by The Ukrainian National Opera

February 7, 2024 7.30pm

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Madama Butterfly – one of the most picturesque & exotic operas

In 1900 after seeing the David Belasco play in London Puccini became interested in John Luther Long’s original story of Madama Butterfly.

Long’s story was based on a real-life incident which took place around 1900, witnessed in Japan by his missionary sister, Sarah Jane (Jennie) Long Correll.

Puccini understood virtually nothing of the English text but, by the end of the performance, he was utterly captivated by the tragic female lead, Cio-Cio-San. He was immediately convinced that the piece would make a moving and powerful opera. However, although Puccini had decided on the subject, it was not until March 1901 that the rights were secured from the American playwright.

Puccini drew on his most passionate creativity to write this most romantic score for his vulnerable heroine, Cio-Cio-San, striving ceaselessly to intensify the lyrical and the dramatic quality of the opera.

But his confidence and pride were dealt a devastating blow at a disastrous first night in the famous opera theatre La Scala, Milan, in February 1904.

A group of agents provocateurs had been paid to jeer and catcall. They were hell-bent on disrupting the performance and so intimidated the audience that the finale was received in utter silence. A shocked Puccini withdrew the opera for revision.

Three months later the new version was premiered at Brescia where rapturous applause confirmed that Madama Butterfly had risen above its traumatic birth to become established as an international favourite – a tribute to both Puccini’s acute dramatic sense and the innate power and beauty of his music.

Madama Butterfly is rare among Puccini’s operas with its focus on one single central character throughout − and Puccini, Giacosa and Illica’s complex and sympathetic exploration of Butterfly’s character ensured the opera’s dramatic success. Butterfly’s profound capacity for love, her moments of playfulness, her dignity and courage, all make her a compelling, lovable protagonist and one who continues to fascinate. Madama Butterfly remained close to Puccini’s heart. He never tired of hearing it or of seeing it performed − a sentiment that modern audiences share.

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7:30 pm


£37, £39

Stafford Gatehouse Theatre

  • Spectacular. Simply stunning.