Madame Butterfly is a famous opera that tells the tale of Pinkerton (a U.S. Naval officer) and his wife Cio-Cio-San (Madame Butterfly). Pinkerton marries for convenience and soon leaves Cio-Cio-San to marry an American girl, but later discovers he has a son with Cio-Cio-San. He returns to Japan with his new wife, but admits to being a coward and refuses to face his former wife. Cio-Cio-San realizes what has happened and agrees to give the child to Pinkerton and his new wife if he will agree to see her. She prepares her son to leave with his father and commits suicide. Madame Butterfly is one of the most widely acclaimed operas of all time and is ranked 8th in most performed operas in the world. Many adaptations have been made since it was released, including four films. Let’s find out who composed and wrote this opera.
Madame Butterfly was composed by the famous Italian composer Giacomo Puccini. The first version of the opera was performed in 1904, but it had a poor premiere. Puccini decided to re-write the opera and split one of the acts to make it a three act opera. The second premiere later that year was much more successful. However, Puccini re-wrote the opera a further three times. The fifth version, also known as the “standard version” is most commonly performed today.
The Italian libretto (the story or text used in opera to tie the music together) was written by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. The libretto is based on the short story “Madame Butterfly” which was written in 1898 by John Luther Long and later (1900) turned into a play by David Belasco with the help of John Luther Long. It was the play that brought the story to the attention of Puccini.