Puccini – Madama Butterfly


Madama Butterfly is an opera in three acts (originally two) by Giacomo Puccini, with an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. The opera is based in part on the short story “Madame Butterfly” (1898) by John Luther Long, which in turn was based partially on stories told to Long by his sister Jennie Correll and partially on the semi-autobiographical 1887 French novel Madame Chrysanth√®me by Pierre Loti. Long’s version was dramatized by David Belasco as a one-act play, Madame Butterfly: A Tragedy of Japan, which, after premiering in New York in 1900, moved on to London, where Puccini saw it in the summer of that year.

The original version of the opera, in two acts, had its premiere on 17 February 1904 at Teatro alla Scala in Milan. It was poorly received, despite such notable singers as soprano Rosina Storchio, tenor Giovanni Zenatello and baritone Giuseppe De Luca in its lead roles; this was due in part to a late completion by Puccini, and thus inadequate time for rehearsals. Puccini revised the opera, splitting Act II into two (with the Humming Chorus as a bridge to what became Act III) and making other changes. Success ensued, starting with the first performance, on 28 May 1904 in Brescia.

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