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Madame Butterfly

Conducted by

Grant Gershon

A traditional presentation of a

Classic and beloved opera.



A love that knows no boundaries goes horribly wrong in a fateful meeting of East and West. What begins as an idyllic liaison in an enchanting land of cherry blossoms turns into the heartbreaking tragedy of an abandoned bride forced to make an excruciating decision.

A stunning production, never before seen in Los Angeles, melds sumptuous costumes with evocative period scenery. From the acclaimed director of Il Postino, Ron Daniels.

Click here to read the program.

Production from San Francisco Opera. Production new to Los Angeles.

Production made possible by generous gifts from Brindell Roberts Gottlieb and Eva and Marc Stern, in honor of Stephen Rountree and his extraordinary leadership of LA Opera.


  • Saturday November 17, 2012 07:30 PM
  • Sunday November 25, 2012 02:00 PM
  • Wednesday November 28, 2012 07:30 PM
  • Saturday December 01, 2012 07:30 PM
  • Thursday December 06, 2012 07:30 PM
  • Sunday December 09, 2012 02:00 PM


Creative Team

* LA Opera debut artist
+ Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program member
++ Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program alumnus



Outside a house in turn-of-the-century Nagasaki, Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton, an American naval officer and admitted Yankee vagabond, arranges with Goro to lease a residence for himself and his new bride Cio-Cio-San, also called Butterfly. He is then introduced to Butterfly's servants, one of whom is Suzuki. While talking to Sharpless, the American consul, Pinkerton reveals that he purchased his bride for a hundred yen and that he can bow out of the marriage contract whenever he wishes. Sharpless tries to warn the officer that his teenage bride might really love him, but Pinkerton ignores the consul, drinking to the day when he will marry an American.

Butterfly arrives with friends and relatives, greets Pinkerton, and shows him her paltry belongings, including the dagger her father used to kill himself. She confides to Pinkerton that she secretly converted to Christianity the day before so that she could worship the same God as her husband, for whom she is willing to forget her own people.

As they celebrate their wedding, the Bonze, Butterfly's devout uncle, storms in. He has found out that she converted and denounces her for abandoning her faith and her family. They renounce her, and Pinkerton demands that they all leave. Night falls and Butterfly joins Pinkerton outside, where she rapturously confesses her love. He leads her into the house.



Three years have passed since Pinkerton sailed away for America. The devoted Butterfly tells Suzuki that one day soon they will see Pinkerton's ship enter the harbor. Sharpless, who knows that Pinkerton will soon arrive in Nagasaki with his new wife, tries to persuade Butterfly to marry Prince Yamadori, but she refuses to listen. She shows the American consul the son that she has borne Pinkerton, convinced that her husband would never abandon her or his own child. The harbor cannon announces the arrival of Pinkerton's ship, and an elated Butterfly prepares for his imminent arrival.

Butterfly, her son, and Suzuki wait all night for Pinkerton, who finally appears the next morning with Sharpless and his new wife, Kate. Butterfly is resting, so Suzuki meets them. Suddenly overwhelmed by remorse, Pinkerton leaves because he cannot face the wife he abandoned. While Kate asks Suzuki to explain to Butterfly that Pinkerton's son would be better off in America, Butterfly awakens and emerges, seeing the strange woman in her garden. Sharpless tells her that the woman is Pinkerton's wife. Distraught, Butterfly retreats to the house to stab herself with her father's dagger. She parts sorrowfully from her son. Pinkerton is heard calling out her name in anguish, as Butterfly dies.

Best price alert:

Select November 17, 25 or 28 for the best ticket value.


Two hours and 55 minutes, including one intermission.
Evening performances: 7:30-10:25 p.m. (approximately)
Matinee performances: 2:00-4:45 p.m. (approximately)


  • Madame Butterfly

    LA Opera: November 14, 2012

    Download File (Right click and "Save As")

    In this edition of the LA Opera Behind the Curtain Podcast, Brian Lauritzen is joined by LAO Resident Conductor Grant Gershon. They talk about Gershon's long history with LA Opera, why he thinks Puccini is underrated orchestrator, and dissect some of Gershon's favorite moments of Madame Butterfly.
Pre-performance lectures are generously sponsored by the Flora L. Thornton Foundation and the Opera League of Los Angeles.


James Conlon Introduces "Madame Butterfly"

Pre-Performance Talks

Get the full story by joining other opera-goers at our complimentary pre-opera talks in the Eva and Marc Stern Grand Hall of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. One hour before every performance, Mitchell Morris will present an entertaining and informative introduction to Madame Butterfly. Pre-performance talks are free of charge to everybody attending the performance, and no reservations are required.