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Madama Butterfly on Sydney Harbour

About the Event

Immerse yourself in the stunning architecture of Sydney's breathtaking Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour for the ultimate concert set to awake your understanding of opera.

After seeing a performance of the one‐act play 'Madame Butterfly' in 1900, Puccini conceived an idea of adapting it for an opera. This poignant tragedy about the love between a Japanese girl and an American sailor became the three‐act opera that premiered at Milan’s La Scala Opera Theatre in 1904. To add an element of realism, Puccini vigorously researched Japanese music and his librettist, Illica, even travelled to Japan.

Act 1
Nagasaki, Japan. Pinkerton, an officer in the American Navy, has arranged to take a Japanese wife, Cio‐Cio San. Sharpless, the American consul, advises Pinkerton that his actions are hasty, but Pinkerton ignores this advice.
Cio‐Cio San is the 15 year old daughter of a samurai family. Her father committed ritual suicide rather than face dishonour, ruining the family. Cio‐Cio San is pleased at her upcoming wedding, and has secretly become a Christian to please her new husband. Her relatives, who are Buddhist, sever connections with her due to her conversion. Pinkerton consoles his bride.

Act 2
Pinkerton returned to America three years ago. Cio‐Cio San believes that he will return. Sharpless visits her with a letter from Pinkerton, but can’t bring himself to reveal the contents of the letter, seeing her happiness with her child and her hope. Sharpless leaves, and Cio‐Cio San confirms that an American battleship to which Pinkerton is assigned is entering port at Nagasaki. She radiantly awaits his return.

Act 3
Cio‐Cio San has a sleepless night, but Pinkerton doesn’t come. While she and the child rest, Pinkerton and Pinkerton’s 'real' wife, Kate, appear in front of the house. Cio‐Cio San's maid, Suzuki, tells them of Cho‐cho‐san’s innocent belief in a happy future. Pinkerton is filled with regret, and quickly departs leaving Kate to talk to Cio‐Cio San. When Cio‐Cio San sees Kate, everything becomes clear to her. Kate offers to take in Pinkerton’s child, but Cio‐Cio San refuses unless Pinkerton comes himself to take his child.
Pinkerton returns, but too late — Cio‐Cio San has already committed ritual sicide, killing herself with her father’s dagger.

Practical Information

Sung in Italian with English surtitles.

This production contains sexual references, themes of sexual abuse and suicide.

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