Madama Butterfly

Updated June 26, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

Giacomo Puccini
Archive Photos
Music:Giacomo Puccini
Libretto:Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica
Premiere:Milan, February 17, 1904

One of the world's most popular operas, Madama Butterfly passionately explores the consequences of obsessive devotion. Pinkerton, a U.S. Navy officer in Japan, contracts what he considers a temporary marriage to Cio-Cio-San, called Butterfly, who renounces religion and family in her adoration for him. When Pinkerton leaves for America, Butterfly blissfully ignores warnings of his unfaithfulness and awaits his return, even turning down a marriage proposal from Yamadori, a rich Japanese businessman. With all avenues of escape closed to her, she is shattered when Pinkerton returns with an American wife. Butterfly ends her unbearable misery with her father's sword, thus preserving her honor.

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