Madama Butterfly, Opera by G. Puccini
‘Un bel di vedremo’ – “One fine day he will return”. Few arias in the operatic catalogue are more wistful, heartfelt and tragic than Cio-Cio-San’s stunning solo spot in Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. In an intimate arrangement for six singers and grand piano, St Mark’s Anglican Church in Florence presents you with the opportunity to get really close to the on-stage action and experience the characters’ intense emotions first-hand. What better way to get invested into the gripping narrative of one of Puccini’s finest mature operas?
Puccini’s love affair with the character of Cio-Cio-San, the Japanese trophy wife to an American naval officer, started in London. Even though he was not conversant in English, he attended the theatre play Madame Butterfly by David Belasco and was immediately attracted to the heroine’s intense emotional journey. He quickly got to work. With the help of his librettists Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, he produced a rich and memorable opera that still stuns with its dramatic depth and the Japanese, American and Italian influences that blend into its musical landscape.
Madama Butterfly takes its title from the tragic main character’s name (“cho-cho” is Japanese for “butterfly”). It tells the story of the hapless marriage between the young Japanese woman and Lieutenant Pinkerton from the U.S. Navy. She is in love, while he sees her as an exotic adventure; a pretty butterfly in his collection of conquests. Soon enough, the officer returns home, and Cio-Cio-San is left carrying his child and yearning for his return. Three years later, Pinkerton is back, but their reunion is much less happy than how the innocent Japanese girl imagined it.
Puccini crafted a multi-layered work of art that tackled themes of love, loneliness, hope, betrayal and colonialism, all flowing into one another on the wings of his masterful score. The stripped-down performance of Madama Butterfly at St Mark’s Church allows you to experience the Maestro’s dramatic and musical talent in pure form. Don’t hesitate to make that journey into the Far East!