Cio Cio San (Madama Butterfly)

Opera in three acts
Music : Giacomo Puccini

Libretto : Luigi Illica & Giuseppe Giacosa, after the drama by David Belasco and John Luther Long

Performed in Italian
(11 characters, 38 musicians & chorus of 15 vocalists)
Stage version and production by
Honoured Artist of Russia
Premiere: 3 February 2006

“I would never stage Madame Butterfly today if the story did not disturb me so much, tormenting me and tearing me to pieces. This mental carbuncle constantly aches, it burns, it affects every cell in the body. Human pain is not limited by time or geography, it is independent of nationality and social status. The English version of the tragic love of Lucretia, the French story of La traviata and the Japanese Butterfly are united in my eyes by the suffering and despair of Woman.

“In our production of Madame Butterfly the action unfolds in Japan just after the war, after the horrendous events in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I have placed the characters in a more ruthless era and tried to remove the element of decorativeness from the opera – a minimum of sets and a minimum of props. The stage is thus naked, undressed, just like people living in a poor and hungry age. Nothing is superfluous, nothing distracts the attention. Just Man in fatal loneliness and all-consuming Pain.

“I see Pinkerton’s love of Butterfly as something like humanitarian aid from the USA. These relations are monstrous. And, ultimately, the moral explosion is stronger and more terrifying than the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” Yuri ALEXANDROV