A tragic tale of innocent love crushed by betrayal

One of the best-loved operas of all time, Cio-Cio-San (Anne Sophie Duprels) is a young Japanese woman who sacrifices everything to marry Pinkerton (Merūnas Vitulskis), the dashing American naval officer. Cruelly discarded when he returns to America, Butterfly is driven to a final and dramatic act of despair.

With its exquisite set and costumes, this emotionally direct and beautiful production by Tim Albery is devastating in its impact. Madama Butterfly features some of Puccini’s most famous music including ‘Un bel dì’ and the ‘Humming Chorus’. French soprano Anne Sophie Duprels has won widespread praise in this production in the role of Cio-Cio-San.

From £15 to £75*

Running time
Approximately 2 hours 30 minutes

Sung in Italian with English titles

*Prices vary by venue. Booking fees may apply.

Cast and creative

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The music

What the critics say...

As for Anne Sophie Duprels, returning to the title role, it would be hard to find, or even imagine, a more thoroughly committed rendering of it.

✭✭✭✭ The Independent (2011) – Full Review ›

…reduced me to jelly…this is an overwhelmingly powerful performance which holds the audience in thrall.

✭✭✭✭ The Telegraph (2007) – Full Review ›


Lieutenant Pinkerton of the United States Navy has taken out a 999-year lease on a house in the hills above Nagasaki, where he intends to live with his bride-to-be, a geisha called Cio-Cio-San, or Madam Butterfly. The marriage-broker, Goro, shows him the house while wedding preparations get underway. Pinkerton revels in the elasticity of Japanese marriage contracts, under which the husband’s absence, even for so short a time as a month, constitutes a divorce. He laughs off the attempts of the American Consul, Sharpless, to warn him that Cio-Cio-San is taking the marriage seriously.

Cio-Cio-San arrives with a crowd of friends and relations and shows Pinkerton her few but treasured belongings. It emerges that she comes from a noble but poverty-stricken family and has had to earn her living as a geisha. Her father committed suicide on the orders of the emperor. The marriage ceremony takes place but the celebrations are interrupted by the arrival of Cio-Cio-San’s uncle, the Bonze, a Shinto priest, who denounces her for converting to Christianity. Her family and friends turn on her and reject her. Cio-Cio-San is left alone with Pinkerton. She assures him that he is all that matters and rejoices in her love for him.

Pinkerton has been gone for nearly three years and no word has been heard from him. Cio-Cio-San and her devoted servant Suzuki are still living in the house that he bought but have almost no money left. Scorning Suzuki’s doubts, Cio-Cio-San is convinced that Pinkerton will return and turns down the marriage offer of the wealthy Prince Yamadori. Sharpless has had a letter from Pinkerton, saying he is returning to visit Nagasaki, but does not want to see Butterfly. When she realises she has been abandoned, Butterfly shows Sharpless the child she has had by Pinkerton. As he leaves, Sharpless promises to let Pinkerton know. Suddenly the harbour cannon is heard, signalling the arrival of Pinkerton’s ship, the Abraham Lincoln. As night falls, Suzuki, the child and Butterfly settle down to wait.

Dawn breaks and Cio-Cio-San is still waiting. Suzuki persuades her to go and rest. Sharpless arrives with Pinkerton and his new American wife, Kate. They have now decided to adopt the child. Pinkerton, belatedly realizing the extent of Cio-Cio-San’s devotion, rushes away, unable to face her. Cio-Cio-San wakes to find a strange woman in her house and finally understands the truth. She agrees to give up her child on condition that Pinkerton comes in person to fetch him. Left alone, she takes a last farewell of her son and kills herself.

Madama Butterfly

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