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1987 production photo from Madame Butterfly

Madame Butterfly 1987

July 1 - August 29, 1987

Cio-Cio-San’s poignant love…

…for Lt. Pinkerton is a soaring drama of passion and personal sacrifice. Puccini’s sensitive masterpiece of the clash between American and Japanese cultures is enhanced in the outdoor setting of Santa Fe.  It is fitting that Madame Butterfly opened the original and second theatre – a tribute to the perfection of this unfaded favorite.

Music By
Giacomo Puccini
Libretto By
Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa
Based on
the book by John L. Long and the drama by David Belasco


Act I

B.F. Pinkerton, a lieutenant in the U. S. Navy, is inspecting his new house, built on a hillside overlooking Nagasaki harbor. Goro, a marriage broker, has arranged the leasing of the house as well as the marriage of Pinkerton with Cio-Cio-San, a geisha, known as Madame Butterfly. The American consul, Sharpless, arrives for the marriage ceremony and warns Pinkerton that Butterfly may not take the marriage so lightly. Pinkerton admits that he does not regard the marriage contract as permanent, but is enchanted with Butterfly. Cio-Cio-San arrives with her friends and tells Pinkerton of her family, confesses that she has renounced her religion for his sake, and displays her few treasured possessions. The relatives arrive and the marriage ceremony begins. Festivities are interrupted by the girl’s uncle, the priestly Bonze, who curses her having deserted the religion of her ancestors. The members of the family quickly disperse, leaving Butterfly alone with Pinkerton. He dries her tears and takes her in his arms. As night descends and the stars appear, they sing of their love and slowly enter the house.

Act II

Three years have passed and Pinkerton has left Japan, promising to return. Despite the pleadings of Suzuki, her maid, Butterfly has not lost faith in his promise. She is visited by Sharpless and Goro who try to persuade her to wed the wealthy Prince Yamadori. Butterfly dismisses the suggestion as unworthy of an American wife. Sharpless begins to read a letter from Pinkerton, and when he hints that the lieutenant may never return, Butterfly shows him her son – Pinkerton’s son. The consul does not have the courage to tell her that Pinkerton has married again. He leaves without having finished the reading of the letter. The booming of the harbor cannon announces the arrival of a foreign ship. Breathless with excitement, Butterfly recognizes the ship as the Abraham Lincoln, Pinkerton’s ship. She and Suzuki gather flowers and strew them about the house. Then Butterfly dons her wedding gown and takes her position with Suzuki and the little boy to wait the arrival of her husband.


When the sun rises, Butterfly is still maintaining her vigil. At Suzuki’s insistence, she goes to rest, taking the child with her. Sharpless and Pinkerton enter and Suzuki soon realizes the entire situation. The remorseful Pinkerton learns of Butterfly’s faithfulness and bids an anguished farewell to the scene of his former happiness. As soon as he leaves, Butterfly rushes in. At first mystified by Suzuki’s attitude, she understands all when she sees Kate Pinkerton waiting in the garden. She agrees to give up her child if Pinkerton will return to get him in half an hour. When left alone, she takes up the dagger with which her father committed hari-kari. Suzuki pushes the little boy into the room in an effort to prevent the suicide, but Butterfly thrusts a toy American flag into his hands, retires behind a screen and stabs herself. She dies just as Pinkerton re-enters to take away his son.


Maria Spacagna headshot

Maria Spacagna


Cio-Cio-San (July 1 - 24)

Miriam Gauci headshot

Miriam Gauci


Cio-Cio-San (August 3 - 29)

Santa Fe Opera

James Schwisow


B.F. Pinkerton (July 1 - 24)

Neil Rosenshein headshot

Neil Rosenshein


B.F. Pinkerton (August 3 - 29)

Judith Christin headshot

Judith Christin



Santa Fe Opera

James Busterud


Sharpless (July 1 - 24)

Richard Stilwell headshot

Richard Stilwell


Sharpless (August 3 - 29)

Anthony Laciura headshot

Anthony Laciura



Santa Fe Opera

Ned Barth


The Imperial Commissioner

Santa Fe Opera

Robert Remington


The Registrar

Santa Fe Opera

James Ramlet


The Bonze

Santa Fe Opera

Gimi Beni


Prince Yamadori

Santa Fe Opera

Luca Marino-Baker



Santa Fe Opera

Karen Noteboom


Kate Pinkerton

John Crosby headshot

John Crosby


Bruce Donnell headshot

Bruce Donnell


John Conklin headshot

John Conklin

Scenic Designer

Craig Miller headshot

Craig Miller

Lighting Designer

Gary Wedow headshot

Gary Wedow

Chorus Master