Michael Steen

Puccini’s Madama Butterfly: A Short Guide to a Great Opera

Butterfly is a delicate and impressionable geisha who thinks she has married Pinkerton, a US naval officer briefly stationed in Japan. Naive and loving as she is, she does not realise that for him the marriage is a sham, an extended 'date'. It's not long before he goes away, leaving her pregnant. Still, she trusts that he will return one fine day (Un bel dì). He does, but it is not the homecoming of which Madame Butterfly dreamed: she is devastated to discover that the callous Pinkerton is now married to an American girl. Heartbroken and despairing, Butterfly commits suicide in one of the most tragic and moving climaxes in opera. In this operatic masterpiece, Puccini depicts the clash of two cultures, weaving 'The Star-spangled Banner' throughout his music. The Humming Chorus, Ah! Dolce notte! ('Oh, night of rapture'), and the Flower Song join Un bel dì in any list of favourite tunes.Written by Michael Steen, author of the acclaimed The Lives and Times of the Great Composers, 'Short Guides to Great Operas' are concise, entertaining and easy to read books about opera. Each is an opera guide packed with useful information and informed opinion, helping to make you a truly knowledgeable opera-goer, and so maximising your enjoyment of a great musical experience.Other 'Short Guides to Great Operas' that you may enjoy include those on Tosca, La Bohème and Lucia di Lammermoor.
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