Opera in three acts
Performed in Italian with Russian subtitles
Libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, based on the play by David Belasco, in turn based on the novella by John Luther Long, in a version by Perm Opera and Ballet Theatre
The opera was written in 1904. This version was first performed in Perm in 2010.
It is hard to believe that the first performance of this celebrated opera was a total flop, and that it was only with the aid of the great conductor Arturo Toscanini, who made the composer shorten the opera and divide it into three acts, that Madama Butterfly returned to the operatic stage. It is the story of a young geisha girl who is prepared to forsake both her family and her religion for a superficial American in a naval officer’s uniform, who is fully aware that marriages in Japan can be dissolved without even informing the wife. The melodramatic plot usually moves even the most callous and cynical theatregoers to tears. Puccini interwove Italian and Japanese melodies to create one of the most exotic and popular operas in the repertoire.
Regardless of the fact that the action has been transposed from Japan at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to America in the 1940s, the producers have found a clever means of preserving the Japanese flavour of the story.