Madame Butterfly

Giacomo Puccini (1858 – 1924)

19:30 - 22:15
C-Prices: € 100,00 / € 82,00 / € 58,00 / € 34,00 / € 24,00
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Information about the work

Japanese tragedy in 3 acts
Libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa
after „Madame Butterfly“ by David Belasco
First performed on 17th February 1904 in Milan
Premiered at the Deutsche Oper Berlin on 20th June 1987

3 hrs / 1 interval

In Italian with German and English surtitles

Pre-performance lecture (in German): 45 minutes prior to each performance

recommended from 14 years
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19:30 - 22:15
C-Prices: € 100,00 / € 82,00 / € 58,00 / € 34,00 / € 24,00
Buy tickets
the content

About the work
Lieutenant Pinkerton is attached to an American ship currently moored in Nagasaki harbour. He has been courting a 15-year-old geisha girl named Cio-Cio-san, known as Butterfly, who is from a poor but genteel family and takes love very seriously. Pinkerton wants to enter into a “time-limited marriage” – not uncommon between European men and geishas at the time – and is even being helped by Goro, the marriage agent, to find a cottage in which they can spend their honeymoon. The US consul, Sharpless, warns him against such a step, but Pinkerton brushes him off and even toasts the day when he will take an American to be his “real” wife.

The repercussions of this foreign liaison for the Japanese girl, who has even converted to the creed of her lover, turn out to be grave: she is shunned by her family after the wedding and Pinkerton is hard put to console his “butterfly”. Three years go by. Cio-Cio is living in seclusion with her young child and her faithful servant Suzuki. She declines all marriage proposals from Prince Yamadori as she is persistent in her belief that Pinkerton will return. When Sharpless arrives with a note from Pinkerton asking him to inform her that he is now married to an American woman and will shortly be arriving in Nagasaki, Sharpless is horrified to see that the affair has produced a child and cannot bring himself to mention Kate, the new wife. Cio-Cio, overjoyed, decorates her home, dons her bridal dress and awaits her beloved husband. When Pinkerton visits with Kate and the consul, Suzuki is given the full facts: she is to persuade Butterfly to surrender her child. Pinkerton can’t bear to face Cio-Cio and ducks out of a face-to-face encounter. Butterfly catches sight of the other woman and realises that Pinkerton has come not to stay but to take the child. She asks for half an hour in which to bid farewell to her son. Then she kills herself.

“There are elements of theatre that don’t necessarily overlap. It is meant to interest us, surprise us, touch us. What has my life got to do with heroes and immortal characters? I am uneasy around those kinds of people. As a musician I don’t deal in large scale and grand issues; it’s the little things that make an impression on me and which I like to explore. I liked Manon, for instance, because she had a big heart and no artifice beyond that … And that’s what drew me to Butterfly, because she’s such a transparent, feminine creature yet capable of loving unto death.” Puccini referred to MADAMA BUTTERFLY as his favourite and best work, and indeed it is perfectly in line with his “music of small things” motto. Filigree musical details, delightful melodies for singers, subtly incorporated exotica and sensitive blending of tonal colours in the orchestra have not only made the work an evergreen but also – as with Puccini’s other operas – given subsequent composers something to aspire to.

About the production
At the core of the production at the Deutsche Oper Berlin is the tragedy of the young woman who stays true to her love, despite the misgivings of all those around her. The moody set design, eschewing any folkloric tendency, lends itself to the charm of the piece.

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Advents-Verlosung: Das 2. Fensterchen

In today's Advent calendar window, we are giving away 3 DVDs of "Der Schatzgräber" - an opera in a prelude, four acts and a postlude by Franz Schreker. If you would like to win one of the three DVDs, please send an e-mail today with the subject "The 2nd window" to

DER SCHATZGRÄBER (THE TREASURE HUNTER) by Franz Schreker was a triumph at its world premiere in Frankfurt in 1920 and went on to play 44 times at assorted venues over the next five years. It then fell victim to a shifting zeitgeist and slipped from opera-house programmes, with a National Socialist ban on performances sealing its demise. Even after 1945 the Schreker revival was a long time coming – and THE TREASURE HUNTER has not featured prominently in the renaissance.

As with the vast majority of Schreker’s libretti, the story of Els and Elis explores the relationship between fantasy and reality, between art and life. Soulmates in the sense that they are both at the mercy of the king’s disposition, Els and Elis set off in search of different treasures. Elis, the minstrel, uses his magic lute to locate a stash of jewels and do humanity a good turn. Els, an innkeeper’s daughter who has grown up motherless in a tough, male-chauvinist world, becomes a liar, cheat and murderess in pursuit of her goal, tasking her suitors to steal the queen’s jewels and then having them killed once they have returned with the haul of treasure. Yet even with the gold in their possession, the pair are not content, and so, true to form, Schreker turns his attention to the theme of yearning per se, which is the actual “treasure” that the composer is interested in, “a dream of happiness and redemption”. Elis and Els are caught up in a swirl of dreams, memories, premonitions, songs and music. Their stories take on a dreamlike quality in a world beset by greed, murder and emotional inconstancy. For Franz Schreker the path to redemption could only be via art. Composed during the turmoil of the First World War, the TREASURE HUNTER score amounts to Schreker’s personal confession of artistic faith, executed in florid strokes of late-Romantic musical colour.

Conductor Marc Albrecht; Staging Christof Loy; Set design Johannes Leiacker; Costume design Barbara Drosihn; With Tuomas Pursio, Doke Pauwels, Clemens Bieber, Michael Adams, Joel Allison, Michael Laurenz, Thomas Johannes Mayer, Seth Carico, Daniel Johansson, Gideon Poppe, Stephen Bronk, Elisabet Strid, Patrick Cook, Tyler Zimmerman a. o.; Chorus and Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin

Closing date: 2 December 2023, the winners will be informed by email on 4 December 2023. The DVDs will then be sent by post. Legal recourse is excluded.