Operas rarely come without copious amounts of heartache, and Madam Butterfly is no exception. Based on the short story written by John Luther Long, it tells the tale of the young and innocent Cio-Cio-San, in Nagasaki, Japan, at the end of the 19th century. She falls in love with Lieutenant Benjamin Franklin, an American naval officer, and one of the world’s most tragic tales of unrequited love unfolds.
Long based his writing on the experiences of his sister, who spent time living in Japan with her husband, as well as on Pierre Loti’s novel, Madame Chrysanthème, which also tells the story of a naval officer, and of his temporary marriage to a Japanese lady.
Madam Butterfly is a compelling narrative, and one that transcends its historical context. So even though the operatic version was originally staged in 1904 at Milan’s famous La Scala opera house, it has gone on to become one of the world’s most enduring and well-known productions.
Its composer, Giacomo Puccini, is considered to be one of Italy’s greatest. His other famous works include the adaptation of Henri Murger’s collection of stories of bohemian life in the Latin Quarter of Paris – La Bohème – which also shows at Dubai Opera from Thursday March 9 to Saturday 11.
If you’re new to the art, Madam Butterfly is also one of Puccini’s most accessible operas. It’s relatively simple, revolving around the two incredibly strong leads, while aficionados will appreciate the lyricism of the performance, which doesn’t feature as many chorus numbers as other works by Puccini. Instead, it’s a show carried by moving solo arias, such as Cio-Cio-San’s Un bel dì, vedremo (“One good day, we will see”) and Pinkerton’s Dovunque al mondo (“Throughout the world”), which weaves in the melody of The Star Spangled Banner.
Brought to the city by the Welsh National Opera – which celebrated its 70th anniversary last year – it’s a stunning spectacle that any lover of musical theatre will appreciate.
From Dhs300. Mar 2-4, 8pm. Dubai Opera, Downtown Dubai (04 440 8888).