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Madama Butterfly

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Dutch National Opera and BalletWaterlooplein 22, Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands
2019 April 23, 26, 29, May 02, 05 14:00, 07, 10, 13 (at 20:00 unless shown)
Performers
Dutch National Opera
Jader BignaminiConductor
Robert WilsonDirector, Set Designer, Lighting Designer
Frida ParmeggianiCostume Designer
Elena StikhinaSopranoCio-Cio-San (Madama Butterfly)
Enkelejda ShkosaMezzo-sopranoSuzuki
Gianluca TerranovaTenorPinkerton
Brian MulliganBaritoneSharpless
Saverio FioreTenorGoro
Carlo CigniBassThe Bonze
Tim KuypersBassPrince Yamadori
John van HalterenTenorThe Imperial Commissioner
Anneleen BijnenMezzo-sopranoKate Pinkerton
Harry TeeuwenBassYakuside
Marieke ReutenMezzo-sopranoCio-Cio-san's mother
Tomoko MakuuchiSopranoThe aunt
Dana IliaSopranoThe cousin
Residentie Orkest
Chorus of Dutch National Opera

Coolly stylised, Robert Wilson’s sublime staging of Puccini’s heartbreaking Madama Butterflyaccentuates the tragic narrative in this revival of the enthusiastically received 2002 production.

NOVELLA, PLAY AND OPERA

Puccini’s opera was adapted from David Belasco’s play Madame Butterfly, which in turn was based on the novella by John Luther Long and its sixteen-year old Japanese heroine, Cio-Cio-San (‘Butterfly’).

HARAKIRI

This is the true story of Cio-Cio-San, who marries the American marine officer Captain Pinkerton and has his child, only to be abandoned. The dramatic climax comes three years later, when Pinkerton and his new wife return to Japan to claim that child. Butterfly realises that what she believed to be a real marriage was merely an exotic adventure to Officer Pinkerton. Cio-Cio-San, alias Madama Butterfly, commits suicide by harakiri: ‘Better to die with honour’, she says, ‘than live with shame’.

EAST AND WEST

Puccini’s composition, with its spellbinding counterpoint of East and West, interweaves leitmotifs evocative of Wagner with authentic Japanese melodies, which the composer studied extensively. Puccini himself considered Madama Butterfly to be his most emotive and expressive opera.

WILSON’S ABSTRACT AESTHETIC

Robert Wilson’s (direction, set and lighting) Madama Butterfly is abstract in its aesthetic and shuns sentimentality. Instead of pseudo-oriental kitsch and scuttling women, he recreates an authentically Asian dimension in how he renders time, with slow, minutely choreographed movements reminiscent of Japanese Nôh theatre. Wilson’s sublimely austere sets and costumes combine with powerful lighting that paints and sculpts the stage.

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