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    Madame Butterfly

    Madame Butterfly_large


    The season opens with a new production of Madame Butterfly, perhaps the most beloved of all operas, which has not been staged here in more than ten years. Kelly Kaduce returns as Puccini’s heartfelt heroine Cio-Cio-San, joined by Elizabeth DeShong as Suzuki and Brandon Jovanovich as Pinkerton. Antony Walker and Lee Blakeley make their Santa Fe debuts as conductor and stage director.

    Performance dates: July 2, 7, 10, 16, 23; August 2, 9, 14, 20, 26


    Composed by Giacomo Puccini
    Sung in Italian

    Act I

    Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton, a Lieutenant in the United States Navy, is inspecting his new house, built on a hillside overlooking Nagasaki harbor. The marriage broker Goro has arranged for the house and for Pinkerton’s marriage to the geisha Cio-Cio-San, who is also known as Madame Butterfly. Sharpless, the American consul, arrives for the ceremony and warns Pinkerton that Butterfly is taking the marriage very seriously; Pinkerton himself considers it something of a lark, although he is enchanted with Butterfly. She arrives with her friends and tells Pinkerton that she has renounced her religion for his sake. When Butterfly’s relatives arrive, the wedding ceremony begins, but it is interrupted by her uncle, the Bonze, who curses her for having abandoned her religion. The family members depart, leaving Butterfly alone with Pinkerton. As night descends, they sing of their love and slowly enter their new house.

    Act II

    Scene 1: Three years have passed. Pinkerton departed long ago and Suzuki, Butterfly’s maid, implores her to forget her American husband, but she refuses, having faith in his promise to return. Sharpless and Goro try to persuade Butterfly to marry the wealthy Prince Yamadori, but she refuses. Sharpless starts to read a letter from Pinkerton, which suggests that he may never return, but Butterfly rejects the implication, and shows Sharpless her son, Trouble, who was fathered by Pinkerton before his departure. The harbor cannon fires to announce the arrival of a foreign vessel, which Butterfly recognizes as the Abraham Lincoln, Pinkerton’s ship. She and Suzuki strew flowers throughout the house; she dons her wedding gown and, with Suzuki and Trouble, awaits the arrival of her husband as the sun begins to set.

    Scene 2: Butterfly has maintained her vigil the entire night. As dawn breaks, Suzuki persuades her to rest. Sharpless and Pinkerton arrive and Suzuki soon discovers that the woman with them is Pinkerton’s new wife, Kate. Sharpless tells her that they want to ensure a good American upbringing for Trouble and he then reproaches Pinkerton for his heartlessness. The latter bids an anguished farewell to the site of his past happiness and leaves, unable to face his Japanese bride. Butterfly enters and, after the situation is explained to her, agrees to give up the child if Pinkerton will return in 30 minutes. She bids a last farewell to her son, then sends him away. She takes up the dagger with which her father committed hara-kiri and stabs herself, just as Pinkerton is arriving for his son.


    • Cio-Cio-San, Madame Butterfly - Kelly Kaduce
    • Suzuki - Elizabeth DeShong
    • B. F. Pinkerton - Brandon Jovanovich
    • Sharpless - James Westman
    • Goro - Keith Jameson
    • The Bonze - Harold Wilson
    • Conductor - Antony Walker
    • Director - Lee Blakeley
    • Scenic Designer - Jean-Marc Puissant
    • Costume Designer - Brigitte Reiffenstuel
    • Lighting Designer - Rick Fisher


    Kelly Kaduce (Cio-Cio San, Butterfly)

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    Elizabeth DeShong (Suzuki)

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    Brandon Jovanovich (Lt. B. F. Pinkerton)

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    James Westman (Sharpless)

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    Keith Jameson (Goro)

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    Harold Wilson (Bonze)

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    Antony Walker (Conductor)

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    Lee Blakeley (Director)

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    Jean-Marc Puissant (Scenic Designer)

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    Brigitte Reiffenstuel (Costume Designer)

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    Rick Fisher (Lighting Designer)

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    Video and Audio

    Excerpts of "Japonisme" Musical Style

    "Three Japanese Lyrics" (1:12 duration)

    "I came into contact with Japan in the course of my work many years ago. In 1913 I composed a small work which used three short Japanese poems for its texts. I was attracted at the time by Japanese woodblock prints, a two-dimensional art without any sense of solidity. I discovered this two-dimensionality in some Russian translations of poetry, and attempted to express it in my music." – Igor Stravinsky

    Stravinsky's "Three Japanese Lyrics" are very short songs to texts by three ancient Japanese poets, translated into Russian. The poems date from teh 8th, 9th, and 10th centuries and the songs are named after th poets–Akahito Yamanobe, Masazumi Miyamoto, and Tsurayuki Ki-no. Each song is a visual depiction of the coming of spring.

    The third song, "Tsaraiuki," heard here, is a depiction of blooming cherry blossoms which appear to be white clouds. Stravinsky, perhaps influenced by Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire, which he had just heard, adopted a similar ensemble, featuring flutes, clarinets, string quartet and piano, accompanying the vocal soloist.

    To purchase this recording click here.

    The Mikado (1:05 duration)

    England's enthusiasm for matters Japanese peaked in 1885, the year that saw the importation of a complete "Japanese Village" exhibited in Knightsbridge, as well as the world premiere of The Mikado at the Savoy Theatre. Composer Arthur Sullivan made use of a genuine Japanese army marching song ("Miya Sama") to herald the impending arrival of the title character part way through Act II.

    To purchase this recording click here.

    "Pagodas" from "Estampes" (3:50 duration)

    "Estampes" is the French term for visual prints or engravings, such as the Japanese wood-block prints that so much influenced European and American arts during the late 19th and early 20th century. Claude Debussy composed "Estampes" for solo piano in 1903, and the first of its three relatively short works is "Pagodas," in which he made use of the Asian gamelan tradition and pentatonic instruments which produces bell-like sounds.)

    To purchase this recording click here.

    Iris (1:42 duration)

    Composer Pietro Mascagni's Iris, is a beautiful young girl, wholly committed to the care of her blind father. Osaka, a well-to-do rake, sees the girl and falls in love with her; he arranges to have her kidnapped and brought to a brothel, where he plans to woo her. In this excerpt, Iris begins to wake and sings an ethereal wordless melody.

    To purchase this recording click here. 

    Madame Butterfly Clip 1
    Cio-Cio-San (Kelly Kaduce) arrives for the wedding ceremony with her friends and relatives
    Madame Butterfly Clip 2
    As night descends, Cio-Cio-San (Kelly Kaduce) and Pinkerton (Brandon Jovanovich) sing of their love and slowly enter their new house.
    Madame Butterfly Clip 3
    In chiding her devoted maid (Elizabeth DeShong) for doubting that Pinkerton will return, Cio-Cio-San (Kelly Kaduce) draws a vivid picture of his homecoming.
    Madame Butterfly Clip 4
    Cio-Cio-San (Kelly Kaduce) bids a last farewell to her son.