“Madama Butterfly” at the Metropolitan Opera: A Review

Image courtesy of: https://www.metopera.org/

By Claudia Larsen

Dr. Durward Entrekin’s opera class took a special trip to the Metropolitan Opera on March 13, where about 12 students were treated to a few sweet hours of high culture. A night at the Met is an occasion of its own, but Giacomo Puccini’s classic opera “Madama Butterfly” makes the night all the more interesting.

“Madama Butterfly” was first performed in Milan, Italy in 1904, and has since become part of a standard of operas regularly performed at the Met.

The story takes place in Nagasaki, Japan in the early 20th century, and follows the 15-year-old geisha wife Cio-Cio-San, known as Madame Butterfly. Cio-Cio-San is married off to U.S. Navy Lieutenant B. F. Pinkerton, who has a contract with a marriage broker for 999 years that is subject to monthly renewal.

Cio-Cio-San believes the marriage to be real, while Pinkerton understands it to be a short affair and intends to marry a “real American wife” one day in the future. To prove her devotion, Cio-Cio-San converts to Christianity prior to the wedding, resulting in her relatives denouncing her and her only family becoming Pinkerton.

Tragedy unfolds in the following two acts of the opera as Cio-Cio-San waits devotedly for Pinkerton to return home to her, refusing to move on with her life even though three years have passed.

Opera is known for being a great spectacle, but the set of “Madama Butterfly” is refreshingly understated and minimalistic, with just a few moving screens to simulate a house and a slanted stage to simulate a hill.

The costumes, however, are where the true extravaganza comes into play. The characters, except for the American ones, are dressed in the style of traditional Japanese clothing but with bright colors and eye-catching designs.

With its powerful message of naivety as well as love and devotion you will neither be bored nor disappointed.

To see performance times and to purchase tickets visit www.metopera.org.