A Japanese story of unfulfilled desire, betrayal and honour
The State OperaApproximate running time
3 hours 10 minutes, 2 intermission 20 minutesLanguage
In Italian, subtitles in Czech, EnglishPremiere
February 4, 2016
Madama Butterfly has perhaps the simplest plot of all Puccini’s operas: a “Yankee”, Lieutenant F. B. Pinkerton, is enchanted by the picturesque Japanese milieu and the 15-year-old Cio-Cio San, nicknamed “Butterfly”, whom he marries. Yet soon, after the honeymoon is over, he abandons his young wife and leaves for the USA to wed an American woman. Three years later, Pinkerton returns to Nagasaki so as to take away the child Cio-Cio San has given birth to in the meantime.
State Opera Chorus and Orchestra
The opera is named after the renowned short story Madame Butterfly by the American lawyer and author John Luther Long, which served as the basis for a drama by the New York impresario and playwright David Belasco, which in turn directly inspired Puccini to compose his celebrated opera.
In Madama Butterfly, Puccini eschewed intricate action and boisterous dramatic events, opting instead for an intimate story and highlighting the psychology of the characters, fleshing out by his music the tiniest details, oscillations and extreme emotional surges. The contrast between the Japanese and “Western” mentality is also aptly rendered by means of many a time surprisingly modified quotations of the US national anthem, as well as a forcible depiction of the local colour of Japan. This facet is suggestively captured in Jiří Heřman’s production, which authentically represents the Japanese culture and its traditional customs, from the tea ceremony to characteristic gait, the act of bowing, to the simple hand fan waving and kneeling on the ground. Amidst an attractive, splendidly illuminated scenery, the stage director brings to bear his imaginative ability to tell the well-known story in a non-traditional way – through the eyes of Cio-Cio San’s grown-up son, who traces his past in Nagasaki.
NOTE: Tobacco products are featured in the performance.
General media partner: Czech Television
Photos from the production: Patrik Borecký
Photo and video gallery
Where to buy tickets
The National Theatre offers tickets for August – November 2021.
Tickets for November on sale from August1st.
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What to wear?
By their appearance, attire and behaviour, the audience is obliged to adhere to the accustomed practice expected from them when attending a theatre performance.
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