TF Archives

Madama Butterfly

Author: Peita Wade
Monday, March 9, 2009

In an age of surplus stories dedicated to helping love-struck women ascertain whether the man in their lives really has honourable intentions, you can't blame a girl for thinking she is on the right track to ‘happily ever after’ when a man vows to honour her till death do them part. In Opera Australia's production of Madama Butterfly, audiences are guided to sympathy for the heroine who, in a grand display of optimism, is led to believe her dreams of love and America will come true. But we know better.
The story is set in the Japanese port city Nagasaki, where the exquisite town beauty, 15 year-old geisha Miss Butterfly, marries American Lieutenant Pinkerton. For the American, the marriage is simply a formality — a part of his plan to have a girl in every port. His intentions to one day return home to America to find himself a true American wife are hidden from his new bride, who gives up her religion and family in pursuit of true love. In his three-year absence from her, Pinkerton does indeed find himself an American wife, and returns to Butterfly only to claim back his young son. Butterfly, devastated by the truth that stands before her, commits herself to a tragic end.
Opera Australia's production of Madama Butterfly breathes new life into Puccini’s classic opera, first performed in Milan in 1904. The elegance of the sets, the simplicity of the costumes and the effortless on-stage interaction between its internationally-renowned performers makes this production accessible to a new generation of audiences. Add to this Puccini’s quick and light score with its emphasis on melody, and you’ll be quite forgiven for forgetting that it is after all a traditional opera you’re watching.