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Sarasota Opera House - Madama Butterfly

Featuredsat18feb7:30 pmsat10:00 pmSarasota Opera House - Madama ButterflySarasota Opera House 61 N Pineapple Ave, Sarasota, FL7:30 pm - 10:00 pm AreaSarasotaCost$33-145 TypeOpera

Event Details

One of Puccini’s most beloved and-performed operas tells the story of a young Geisha, known affectionately as Madama Butterfly, who is swept off her feet by an American Naval Officer. Left with a promise that he would return one day, Butterfly waits faithfully for three years, but is met with heartbreak in one of opera’s most enduring tragedies.

The opera opens in Nagasaki, Japan, at the turn of the 20th century. Lieutenant BF Pinkerton of the US Navy is leasing a house from Goro, a marriage broker. Goro has also arranged a match for Pinkerton: he is about to marry a 15-year-old geisha named Cio-Cio San, also known as Madame Butterfly. At the ceremony, Pinkerton describes his outlook on life to Sharpless, an American consul. Pinkerton explains he intends to travel the world experiencing different cultures and enjoying himself. He says he’s not sure whether he’s in love with Butterfly or just infatuated, but that doesn’t matter to him either way. Sharpless suggests that it might matter to Butterfly, but Pinkerton remains unconcerned. This marriage doesn’t mean anything to him. It’s easy to get a divorce in Japan, so someday, he will leave Butterfly and have a “real” marriage with an American wife.

Butterfly is from a family that was once prosperous, but has fallen on hard times, requiring her to work as a geisha. She tells Pinkerton a secret: she has gone to the nearby Christian mission and converted to his religion out of her love for him. After the ceremony, Butterfly’s uncle, a priest named Bonze, shows up to announce his fury at his niece for converting. He says she has rejected the religion of her ancestors and curses her. The rest of the family also repudiates Butterfly when they learn she has converted. Pinkerton tries to comfort her, and the two sing a romantic duet as they prepare for their first night as husband and wife.

Act II resumes the story three years later. Pinkerton left Butterfly shortly after their wedding, and she is still waiting for him to come back. Her maid, Suzuki, prays to the Japanese gods for his return, but Butterfly objects, saying that she doesn’t need divine assistance. In her mind, Pinkerton promised to return, and she is sure he would not break his word. Meanwhile, Goro has been bringing her potential suitors so she can marry again, but she refuses to see them.

Sharpless arrives with a letter from Pinkerton, and Butterfly asks Goro and his latest suitor, Prince Yamadori, to leave so she can hear it in private. Butterfly is so excited to hear from Pinkerton that she interrupts Sharpless’s attempts to read the letter. He gives up and instead asks her what she would do if Pinkerton never came back. Butterfly says she would either become a geisha again or die. Sharpless tells her she should consider marrying Yamadori. A hurt Butterfly reveals that she had a son with Pinkerton; she gave birth to him after Pinkerton left. She asks Sharpless to tell her husband about his son, and he promises he will.

Later, Butterfly sees and hears Pinkerton’s ship near the harbor. She happily begins to prepare for his arrival with Suzuki. She stays awake all night waiting for him to come home.

Morning comes in Act III. Suzuki wakes up and tells Butterfly to go to sleep. She agrees, lying down in another room with her son. Sharpless arrives while she is sleeping, along with Pinkerton and his American wife, Kate. They have heard about Pinkerton’s son and have agreed they will take the boy and raise him themselves. But now, seeing the preparations Butterfly has made for him, Pinkerton is ashamed of himself. He is too cowardly to face his first wife and leaves the house. Then, Butterfly wakes up and discovers Kate for herself. She agrees to give up her child, but only if Pinkerton asks her himself.

She asks everyone to leave the room and takes out the ceremonial dagger her father used to kill himself. She prays to her ancestral gods and prepares to die. Butterfly’s son runs in, interrupting the moment. She tearfully blindfolds him and gives him a miniature American flag to hold. Then, she stabs herself, choosing to die with honor. Pinkerton rushes in, but he is too late.

Madame Butterfly received negative reviews after the first performance of the original two-act version, which Puccini had rushed. After the opera nearly flopped, he split the original Act II into two parts and made other revisions. The revised version went on to enjoy great success, and the standard version of the opera today is considered a classic of the genre. It has been adapted for the screen several times, and other works such as M. Butterfly and Miss Saigon retell or refer to the plot.





(Saturday) 7:30 pm - 10:00 pm


Sarasota Opera House 61 N Pineapple Ave, Sarasota, FL





March 2023

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