Madame Butterfly

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.


Act III

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

Program and cast

Japanese tragedy in 3 acts
Libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa
after „Madame Butterfly“ by David Belasco
First performed on 17th February 1904 in Milan
Premiered at the Deutsche Oper Berlin on 20th June 1987


Recommended from 12 years on


In Italian with German and English surtitles


2hrs 45 mins / 1 interval


Conductor: Ramón Tebar

Director, Stage design, Costume design: Pier Luigi Samaritani

Chorus Master: Thomas Richter

Cio-Cio-San: Elena Guseva

Suzuki: Irene Roberts

Kate Pinkerton: Karis Tucker

Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton: Migran Agadzhanyan

Sharpless: Dong-Hwan Lee

Goro: Burkhard Ulrich

Prince Yamadori: Michael Kim

The Bonze: Byung Gil Kim

Imperial Commissioner: Matthew Cossack

Official Registrar: Patrick Guetti

La Madre di Cio-Cio-San: Martina Metzler-Champion

Cugina: Saskia Meusel

Zia: Jiwon Choi

Chorus: Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin

Orchestra: Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin

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Deutsche Oper Berlin

The Deutsche Oper Berlin is an opera company located in the Charlottenburg district of Berlin, Germany. The resident building is the country's second largest opera house and also home to the Berlin State Ballet.

The company's history goes back to the Deutsches Opernhaus built by the then independent city of Charlottenburg—the "richest town of Prussia"—according to plans designed by Heinrich Seeling from 1911. It opened on November 7, 1912 with a performance of Beethoven's Fidelio, conducted by Ignatz Waghalter. After the incorporation of Charlottenburg by the 1920 Greater Berlin Act, the name of the resident building was changed to Städtische Oper (Municipal Opera) in 1925.

Deutsches Opernhaus, 1912
With the Nazi Machtergreifung in 1933, the opera was under control of the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. Minister Joseph Goebbels had the name changed back to Deutsches Opernhaus, competing with the Berlin State Opera in Mitte controlled by his rival, the Prussian minister-president Hermann Göring. In 1935, the building was remodeled by Paul Baumgarten and the seating reduced from 2300 to 2098. Carl Ebert, the pre-World War II general manager, chose to emigrate from Germany rather than endorse the Nazi view of music, and went on to co-found the Glyndebourne opera festival in England. He was replaced by Max von Schillings, who acceded to enact works of "unalloyed German character". Several artists, like the conductor Fritz Stiedry or the singer Alexander Kipnis followed Ebert into emigration. The opera house was destroyed by a RAF air raid on 23 November 1943. Performances continued at the Admiralspalast in Mitte until 1945. Ebert returned as general manager after the war.

After the war, the company in what was now West Berlin used the nearby building of the Theater des Westens until the opera house was rebuilt. The sober design by Fritz Bornemann was completed on 24 September 1961. The opening production was Mozart's Don Giovanni. The new building opened with the current name.

© Günter Karl Bose
© Bettina Stöß
© Bettina Stöß
© Bettina Stöß
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