Puccini’s original ‘Madama Butterfly’ back at La Scala after 112 years
Milan’s La Scala opera house opened its new season in December 2016 with the original, more brutal version of Giacomo Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly”, not shown there since its poorly received premiere in 1904.
The opera follows the story of the Japanese geisha Ciocio-San, who marries a U.S. army officer, F.B. Pinkerton, for love, only to see him leave Japan, then return three years later – with an American wife.
Conductor Riccardo Chailly chose to revive Puccini’s first take on the opera, in two acts rather than three, which has no aria expressing Pinkerton’s regrets at leaving the geisha. “This makes the drama even more brutal,” Chailly said. Unlike the 1904 production, which was greeted with hisses, Wednesday’s showing earned a 13-minute standing ovation. “It’s Puccini’s revenge, 112 years later,” said baritone Carlos Alvarez, who sang the role of the U.S. consul, Sharpless.
Gino Vezzini, president of the Amici del Loggione (“Friends of the Gallery”) association, praised Chailly’s “accurate and emotional” rendition. Latvian director Alvis Hermanis said he had wanted to emphasize the clash between the real, and sometimes cruel, world represented by Pinkerton and the geisha’s fantasy one. “Everybody knows the rules of the game except for Madama Butterfly. It’s impossible not to love her,” he said.
Tickets will be on sale from Sat 17 November 2018
All profits from this film are being donated to Stockbridge Music
“A performance endowed with abundant detail, an impressive depth of sound and a suppleness in lyrical passages” The Financial Times
“On the evening of 7 December 2016 Riccardo Chailly, with the director Alvis Hermanis and the soprano Maria José Siri, received a quarter hour of applause. This staging opens an important chapter in the fortunes of Puccini in the new millennium” The Theatre Times
“This new staging – designed by the Latvian director (Riccardo Chailly) himself, together with Leila Fteita – proved true to the spirit of Puccini’s music and awake to the specific characteristics of Illica and Giacosa’s original libretto, which features a number of extra roles in Act I and a more prominent role for Kate Pinkerton (played by Nicole Brandolino) than in the familiar version.” Opera News