Madama Butterfly

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November 2024 Next



Approximate running time: 3 hours 10 minutes, 2 intermission (20 minutes) minutes

Language: In Italian, surtitles in Czech, English


The opera is named after the renowned short story Madame Butterfly by the American lawyer and author John Luther Long, which served as the basis for a drama by the New York impresario and playwright David Belasco, which in turn directly inspired Puccini to compose his celebrated opera.


In Madama Butterfly, Puccini eschewed intricate action and boisterous dramatic events, opting instead for an intimate story and highlighting the psychology of the characters, fleshing out by his music the tiniest details, oscillations and extreme emotional surges. The contrast between the Japanese and “Western” mentality is also aptly rendered by means of many a time surprisingly modified quotations of the US national anthem, as well as a forcible depiction of the local colour of Japan. This facet is captured in Jiří Heřman’s production, which authentically represents the Japanese culture and its traditional customs. The stage director tells the well-known story in a non-traditional way – through the eyes of Cio-Cio San’s grown-up son, who traces his past in Nagasaki.


WARNING: Tobacco products are featured in the performance.
Suitable for audience from 12 years.




Act 1

In 1904, a U.S. naval officer named Pinkerton rents a house on a hill in Nagasaki, Japan, for himself and his soon-to-be wife, "Butterfly". Her real name is Cio-Cio-San (from the Japanese word for "butterfly" (蝶々, chōchō, pronounced [tɕoꜜːtɕoː]); -san is a plain honorific). She is a 15-year-old Japanese girl whom he is marrying for convenience, and he intends to leave her once he finds a proper American wife, since Japanese divorce laws are very lax. The wedding is to take place at the house. Butterfly had been so excited to marry an American that she had earlier secretly converted to Christianity. After the wedding ceremony, her uninvited uncle, a bonze, who has found out about her conversion, comes to the house, curses her and orders all the guests to leave, which they do while renouncing her. Pinkerton and Butterfly sing a love duet and prepare to spend their first night together.


Act 2

Three years later, Butterfly is still waiting for Pinkerton to return, as he had left shortly after their wedding. Her maid Suzuki keeps trying to convince her that he is not coming back, but Butterfly does not believe her. Goro, the marriage broker who arranged her marriage, keeps trying to marry her off again, but she does not listen to him either. The American consul, Sharpless, comes to the house with a letter which he has received from Pinkerton which asks him to break some news to Butterfly: that Pinkerton is coming back to Japan, but Sharpless cannot bring himself to finish it because Butterfly becomes very excited to hear that Pinkerton is coming back. Sharpless asks Butterfly what she would do if Pinkerton were not to return. She then reveals that she gave birth to Pinkerton's son after he had left and asks Sharpless to tell him.


From the hill house, Butterfly sees Pinkerton's ship arriving in the harbour. She and Suzuki prepare for his arrival, and then they wait. Suzuki and the child fall asleep, but Butterfly stays up all night waiting for him to arrive.


Act 3

Suzuki wakes up in the morning and Butterfly finally falls asleep. Sharpless and Pinkerton arrive at the house, along with Pinkerton's new American wife, Kate. They have come because Kate has agreed to raise the child. But, as Pinkerton sees how Butterfly has decorated the house for his return, he realizes he has made a huge mistake. He admits that he is a coward and cannot face her, leaving Suzuki, Sharpless, and Kate to break the news to Butterfly. Agreeing to give up her child if Pinkerton comes himself to see her, she then prays to statues of her ancestral gods, says goodbye to her son, and blindfolds him. She places a small American flag in his hands and goes behind a screen, stabbing herself with her father's seppuku knife. Pinkerton rushes in, but he is too late, and Butterfly dies.

Program and cast

Conductor: Andriy Yurkevych
Cio-Cio-San: Olga Busuioc
Suzuki: Jana Sýkorová
F. B. Pinkerton: Valentyn Dytiuk
Sharpless: Jiří Brückler
Yamadori: Csaba Kotlár
Kate Pinkerton: Lenka Pavlovič
Goro: Václav Sibera
Bonzo: Zdeněk Plech
The Imperial Commissioner: Roman Vocel
Yakuside: Tomáš Foltýnek; Michael Skalický
Librarian: Libor Novák; Sergej Smirnyj
Cio-Cio-San’s Mother: Soňa Koczianová; Markéta Frýdová
Son: Jan Adam; Marek Červink
Aunt: Gabriela Pešinová; Lucie Svačinková
Cousin: Eliška Rokos Mourečková; Petra Břicháčová


State Opera Chorus
State Opera Orchestra


Creative team

Libretto - Giuseppe Giacosa; Luigi Illica

Stage director - Jiří Heřman

Sets - Jiří Heřman; Jan Lukášek

Costumes - Alexandra Grusková

Motion cooperation - Lucie Hayashi

Light design - Daniel Tesař

Video projection - Lunchmeat studio (Larva, Bartoš)

Chorus master - Adolf Melichar

Dramaturgy - Patricie Částková; Ondřej Hučín


Photo gallery
Patrik Borecký
© Patrik Borecký
Patrik Borecký
© Patrik Borecký
Patrik Borecký
© Patrik Borecký
Patrik Borecký
© Patrik Borecký

Prague State Opera

The State Opera today


The State Opera (formerly the State Opera Prague, between 1948 and 1992 the Smetana Theatre, and originally the New German Theatre) has been a part of the National Theatre since 2012. The Opera and Ballet ensembles give repertory performances at the State Opera.




The Prague State Opera resides in the building which on January 5, 1888 was opened as a Prague German stage with the performance of Wagner’s opera, The Mastersingers of Nürnberg. In the 19th century, Prague Germans performed in the Estate’s Theater in alternation with a Czech company. Desire for their own theater led to negotiations in 1883 for the construction of a new theater building for the German Theater Association. Over the next three years, a blueprint was drawn up and handed over to the Vienna atelier of Fellner and Hellmer. Also sharing in the design was the architect of the Vienna Municipal Theater, Karl Hasenauer, while Prague architect Alfons Wertmüller took part in the construction. Financing came from private collections. With its spacious auditorium and neo-Rococo decoration, this theater building is among the most beautiful in Europe.




By car

On Wilsonova street, from the left lane close to the State Opera building take the slip road to the Slovan above-ground garage. The parking fee is 40 CZK/h.


By tram


By daytime tram No. 11 to the stop “Muzeum”, through the underpass beneath Legerova street in the direction of the NationalMuseum, at the crossroads turn right along the NewBuilding of the NationalMuseum.


By daytime trams Nos. 3, 9, 14 and 24 or night trams Nos. 51, 52, 54, 55, 56 and 58 to the stop “Václavské náměstí”, then by foot uphill on the left side of the Wenceslas Square to the traffic lights across Wilsonova and Vinohradská streets. Then turn left along the NewBuilding of the NationalMuseum.


By metro

To the “Muzeum” station, lines A and C (green and red), and then by foot along the NewBuilding of the NationalMuseum.

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