The title character of Madama Butterfly is one of the defining roles in opera.
Cio-Cio-San, a young Japanese geisha, clings to the belief that her arrangement with a visiting American naval officer is a loving and permanent marriage. The story triggers ideas about cultural and sexual imperialism for people far removed from the opera house, and film, Broadway, and popular culture in general have riffed endlessly on it. The lyric beauty of Giacomo Puccini’s score, especially the music for the thoroughly believable lead role, has made Butterfly timeless.
Leading sopranos Hui He and Ana María Martínez share the heartbreaking title role of the doomed geisha, with tenors Piero Pretti and Andrea Carè as the American naval officer who abandons her. The great Plácido Domingo makes his role debut as Sharpless, alternating with Paulo Szot and Markus Brück. Pier Giorgio Morandi is on the podium for Anthony Minghella’s sweeping production, a perennial audience favorite.