Show artwork for Madame Butterfly

Madame Butterfly

Composed by Giacomo Puccini

Conducted by James Conlon

September 21 – October 13

At the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

She loved him. He crushed her wings.

Lights, camera, action: An American officer in turn-of-the-century Japan wants a bride, and a greedy marriage broker obliges, assuring him that the union can be easily dissolved. The innocent Cio-Cio-San believes they’re in love, even as Lt. Pinkerton moves on. For three years, she fights off rising debts and new suitors, refusing to believe she’s been abandoned. But when their long-awaited reunion finally arrives, the lieutenant isn’t alone—and he isn’t here for her. End scene. 

Directed by the Goya Award-winning Mario Gas, this stunning Madame Butterfly gets a cinematic twist as all the action takes place on a 1930s film set. Korean soprano Karah Son reprises her signature role as Puccini’s tragic heroine trying to find her way in a world dominated by men. Tenor Jonathan Tetelman is the callous Pinkerton, with Hyona Kim as Suzuki, Cio-Cio-San’s devoted maid who sees right past his gentlemanly facade, and Michael Sumuel as Sharpless, the sympathetic American consul. James Conlon, "the most accomplished music director currently working on the podium of an American opera house" (Opera News), opens the season conducting Puccini's poignant and unforgettable score. 

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“Karah Son’s Butterfly was a tour-de-force whose journey we raptly followed”



Karah Son
B.F. Pinkerton
Jonathan Tetelman
Hyona Kim
Michael Sumuel
Rodell Aure Rosel
Wei Wu
Prince Yamadori
Hyungjin Son
Imperial Commissioner
Vinicius Costa

Creative Team

James Conlon
Mario Gas
Ezio Frigerio
Franca Squarciapino
Jeremy Frank

Read the synopsis


Act One
Outside a house in turn-of-the-century Nagasaki, Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton, an American naval officer, arranges with the marriage broker Goro to lease a residence for himself and his new bride Cio-Cio-San, also known as 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 100 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 woman.

Butterfly arrives with friends and relatives, greeting Pinkerton and showing 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.

During the wedding celebration, the Bonze, Butterfly’s uncle, arrives. He has heard that Butterfly has renounced her religion, and he calls upon all of her relatives to renounce her. Pinkerton demands that they all leave, then comforts his new bride. As night falls, Butterfly rapturously confesses her love for Pinkerton. He leads her into the house.


Act Two
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 has learned that Pinkerton will soon arrive in Nagasaki with a new wife, tries to persuade Butterfly to marry his client Prince Yamadori, who hopes to marry her. She refuses to listen, insisting that she is already married. Furthermore, 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, waiting and watching for him all night with her son and Suzuki.

Act Three
Morning comes and still Pinkerton has not returned. When Butterfly carries the sleeping child to bed, Suzuki sees Sharpless, Pinkerton and an American woman—his new wife, Kate—in the garden. Suddenly overwhelmed by remorse, Pinkerton leaves, unable to face the Japanese wife he had 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 sends them away, telling them that Pinkerton should come for the child in half an hour. She retreats to the house and takes her father’s dagger. She is about to stab herself when Suzuki pushes the child into the room. Butterfly parts sorrowfully from her son and sends him outside to play. She takes up the dagger with which her father committed hara-kiri and kills herself, just as Pinkerton is arriving for his son.

Running time: approximately three hours, including one intermission
Sung in Italian with English subtitles

Production from Teatro Real, Madrid

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