Opéra Bastille - from 05 September to 13 October 2015
3h00 with 1 interval
In few words:
"I gave my tears to this earth, now it must give me back flowers."
Madama Butterfly, Act II
The sources are multiple and of varying reliability, but the story is genuine: Tsuru Yamamuri, the young geisha who gave birth to the child of a United States Navy officer was known to the people of Nagasaki as O-Cio-San – or Madame Butterfly. Adding to what was scarcely more than an anecdote, John Luther Long drew literary substance from Pierre Loti’s Madame Chrysanthemum to write the short story which David Belasco subsequently transformed into a tragedy. On a trip to London, Puccini saw a performance of that Madame Butterfly and hastened to acquire the adaptation rights from the author. And how do you say no to “an impulsive Italian with tears in his eyes and both arms around your neck?”
After attuning his ear to the sonorities of a mystifying new language by listening to the actress Sada Yacco and then the wife of the Japanese ambassador who sang him melodies from her homeland, the composer pored over books on the customs of the Empire of the Rising Sun with all the meticulousness of an ethnographer. Against this backdrop of imaginary reality – more impressionist than verist – the delicate figure of the abandoned heroine stands out, Puccini's most moving heroine and his favourite. A pillar of the Paris Opera’s repertoire, the pure lines of Robert Wilson’s production open the season like a blue-tinted dream.
Opera in three acts
After David Belasco
Based on a short novel by John Luther Long