A tragedy in two acts, sometimes divided into three, taking place in the 20th century in the land of the rising sun, where two different worlds collide. Director Robert Wilson aims to perfect the dramatic intensity and underlying violence of the thoroughly Japanese tragedy of Madama Butterfly, a young 15-year old geisha who takes marriage seriously and remains loyal to its traditions, while Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton, an American soldier marries her for casual entertainment.
Why Watch Madama Butterfly
Based on a short novel by John Luther Long, this opera is laced in Japanese charm where two very different worlds collide in dramatic intensity. With Puccini, there are climaxes within climaxes with grand musical statements that take your breath away. Robert Wilson’s unique, and sometimes baffling experiments with light, language, movement, and properties blossom in Puccini’s ‘slow poetry of the soul’. The aesthetics of the production, largely in acting, takes its inspiration from Butoh, a Japanese form of dance characterized by slow motion, poetry and minimalism. Wilson and choreographer Suzushi Hanayagi develop a large palette of gestures, poses, and patterns, typically called kata which instead of illustrating the words, comment on them. A pillar of the Paris Opera’s repertoire, the pure lines of Robert Wilson’s production open the season like a blue-tinted dream.
A United States naval officer, Pinkerton, is on duty in Japan. He takes a house located on top of a hill, overlooking the beautiful Nagasaki harbour, on lease. He marries a 15-year old Japanese girl, Ciocio-san, for convenience and intends to leave her as soon as he finds an appropriate American wife. Ciocio-san is unaware of his motives, and is excited at the prospect of marrying an American. Soon, their wedding takes place at their home.
Pinkerton leaves for the United States shortly after the wedding and forgets all about his young and innocent Japanese wife. Ciocio-san waits for her husband to return, unaware of his true intentions. Three years later, Ciocio-san still awaits the return of Pinkerton. Her maid, Suzuki tries to convince her that he will not return, but Ciocio-san refuses to listen to her. The marriage broker, Goro, who got Ciocio-san married to Pinkerton attempts to find other suitors for her, but she refuses to listen to him too. Soon, she learns that Pinkerton is going to return to Japan. Is Pinkerton going to return as the same man who left? Or has he found an American wife that is undoubtedly going to break Ciocio’s heart? Can he salvage the terrible situation that he has created for himself?
Lovers of Classical Music | Fans of Giacomo Puccini | Opera Fans
“This is primal opera. A dramatic culture clash set to the most ravishing and evocative music, Butterfly is the best of the best.” - Houston Press
Know Before You Go
It is forbidden to photograph, film or record the show.
Suitable for ages 5+
Opera Bastille has a seating capacity of 2,723
It is forbidden to consume food and / or drinks in the theater.
There is no particular dress code, however a correct dress is required.
Strict Cancellation Policy
This experience cannot be cancelled, amended or rescheduled.
You will receive an email confirmation along with your mobile voucher shortly. Please display the voucher with a valid photo ID at the Box Office of Opera Bastille, 45 minutes before the performance.