Anthony Minghella’s vividly cinematic staging of Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly returns to the Met, featuring soprano Hui He in the devastating title role of the doomed geisha.
Pier Giorgio Morandi conducts one of opera’s most beautiful and heartbreaking scores, with a cast that also includes Andrea Care as Pinkerton, Placido Domingo as Sharpless, and mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong as Suzuki.
The opera takes place in the Japanese port city of Nagasaki at the turn of the last century, at a time of expanding American international presence, and when temporary marriages for foreign sailors were not unusual.
The opera rests squarely on the performer of the title role – a young Japanese geisha who clings to the belief that her arrangement with a visiting American naval officer is a loving and permanent marriage. It is one of the defining roles in opera. On stage for most of the time, Cio-Cio-San is the only character that experiences true (and tragic) development. The singer must convey an astounding array of emotions and characteristics, from ethereal to fleshly to intelligent to dreamy-bordering-on-insane, to resigned in the final scene.
The lyric beauty of Puccini’s score, especially the music for the thoroughly believable lead role, has made Butterfly timeless.