Libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa after the play by David Belasco
Conductor: Alexander Bolshakov
Stage Directors: Waughan Bagratuni, Armen Meliksetian
Stage Designer: Vladimir Ivanov
Chorus Master: Sergey Tenitilov
Principal Stage Painters: Arkady Galkin, Vladimir Rumyantsev
Stage Director’s Assistant: Tatiana Grigorieva
2 hours 50 minutes
performed in Italian (with Russian surtitles)
Première of the production: 17 March 1988
Story of loving and self-sacrificing heroine is unfolding accompanied by poetic melodies by Giacomo Puccini. Accord of exotic Japanese flavour and intense psychological drama is the reason for audience’s continued interest towards this opera.
The opera is set in Nagasaki in the early 20th century.
A Japanese house on a hill not far from Nagasaki. Goro is showing it to a U.S. Naval officer named Pinkerton, who is going to live here with a young geisha Cio-Cio San: soon they will be married according to the Japanese ritual. The American consul, Sharpless, joins Pinkerton, and the officer carelessly tells him that his marriage to a Japanese girls lets him marry an American girl one day. The voices of Cio-Cio San and her friends are heard. Cio-Cio San, dubbed Butterfly, tells the story of her life: her father was a distinguished samurai, but due to need she had to become a geisha. She is ready to forsake her faith, if Pinkerton wants it. At the end of the wedding ritual, the Bonze, Butterfly’s uncle, appears to everyone’s confuse. He has found out that his relative is going to forsake their ancestral religion and denounces her and her relatives for that. Pinkerton banishes everyone and takes his wife to the house.
Three years have passed. Butterfly in her house is waiting for Pinkerton to return and convinces her servant Suzuki, that he will be back soon. Sharpless and Goro arrive: the consul is holding a letter, in which Pinkerton asks him to tell Butterfly that he has married an American girl. Sharpless doesn’t dare to tell her the news. He advices Butterfly to accept the proposal of Prince Yamadori. Butterfly shows her little son to Sharpless: he is waiting for his father. Suddenly, a cannon booms in the harbor signaling the arrival of an American ship. Butterfly is overjoyed: she decorates the house with flowers and is waiting for Pinkerton. Night falls.
Day breaks. Butterfly, who is tired of the sleepless night, is going to rest. Suddenly Pinkerton, his wife Kate and the American consul arrive: the naval officer hopes that his ex-lover will give him their child.
Suzuki tells Pinkerton how passionately Butterfly was waiting for him, and he cannot hold his agitation. Seeing Kate and listening to the consul, Butterfly understands everything. She will give them her son on half an hour. When everybody leaves, she starts getting ready to die. Suzuki pushes the child to her room, hoping that Butterfly will change her mind. Butterfly tenderly bids farewell to her son, blindfolds him and stabs herself behind the screen. Pinkerton is calling her... Butterfly dies.