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The Royal Opera House

Opera Guide: Madama Butterfly

Madama Butterfly is one of the most popular operas of all time, despite its disastrous premiere, after which it was immediately withdrawn and revised. This guide explores how and why the libretto was softened to suit the tastes of European opera-goers, and the different variants are set out, side by side. Professor Jean-Pierre Lehmann introduces the story and shows how the theme of a Japanese girl deserted by a heartless foreigner became a classic. Since John Luther Long’s novella – on which the opera was based – is included as well, it is possible to judge how successful Puccini was in catching its essence in his hauntingly beautiful score.

Images of the Orient, John-Pierre Lehmann
Tribulations of a Score, Julian Smith
Madame Butterfly, John Luther Long
Madama Butterfly: Libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi lllica after the book by John Luther Long and the play by David Belasco
Madam Butterfly: English version based on that of R.H. Elkin
Discography, David Nice 

ENO Libretto 26
Composer: Giacomo Puccini 
Page extent: 128 pages
Size: 21.5 x 14 cm portrait
Binding: Paperback
ISBN: 9780714544274