Madam Butterfly to Be Performed in San Miguel!
By Mittie Babette Roger
Rehearsals are already in full swing for our production of Puccini’s Madam Butterfly at the Teatro Ángela Peralta on Friday, February 10, at 7pm, and Sunday, February 12, at 5pm. Tickets are selling like hot cakes for both nights and we advise you to book as soon as possible. This opera has become one of the most cherished works in the whole of the operatic repertoire, but it was not always so. In fact, the premier involves one of the greatest opera scandals in history!
Fri, Feb 10, 7pm
Sun, Feb 12, 5pm
Teatro Ángela Peralta
Mesones 82, Centro
English and Spanish subtitles
Tickets on sale at promusicasma.org
Gala tickets at La Tienda in the Biblioteca Pública
Puccini wrote in deeply wounded tones after the ill-fated opening night on February 17, 1904, at La Scala, “I’m still completely devastated from everything that happened—not so much by what was done to my poor ‘Butterfly,’ but with the poison directed toward me as an artist and a person. This premiere was an inferno a la Dante.” These wounds were brought about by the audience laughing, hissing, and whistling during the performance, before falling stone silent at its conclusion.
Puccini’s theme was a bracing one: the story of a US naval officer and a Japanese geisha which touched on the plight of sailor romance and the colonial self-image of the age. Pinkerton, stationed in Japan, marries the young Chio-Chio-San and then leaves her behind when he returns to the US. She waits loyally for him, but when he returns, he brings with him his new American wife. Ultimately, Chio-Chio-San accepts the inevitable, giving him their child, and then committing suicide.
Puccini did a great deal of research on the opera and was extensively advised by one of the leading actresses of the day, Sada Yacco (below), who met the composer on a world tour with her theater troupe in 1899.
Even though opera audiences were well-accustomed to such scandalous stories, Puccini was the first to dress the subject in genuine exotic costume—not just visually, but musically as well.
Strict secrecy was enforced during rehearsals; nobody was to find out anything about the work before the premiere. Giulio Gatti-Casazza, the director of La Scala, said: “The artists were instructed to learn the parts all alone in the opera house. They weren’t even allowed to take the piano scores home. During preparations, no outsiders were allowed in, not even the press, who were usually offered tickets to the dress rehearsals.”
This tactic of secrecy didn’t just irritate the critics, it also stirred Puccini’s opponents—a clique in the gallery—to pounce. And that’s how the premiere ended in a one-of-a-kind fiasco, shocking not just the singers on stage but the composer himself.
Puccini re-worked the opera, and the final version quickly conquered stages around the world, becoming one of the great mainstays of the operatic canon. As the composer put it himself: “Madame Butterfly will remain what it is: the most soulful, expressive opera that I have ever written.”
Don’t miss this spectacular opera with English and Spanish subtitles. Tickets are now on sale at all our usual ticket outlets, at the theater, and by credit card via our website: promusicasma.org. Gala tickets are also available through the website, and at La Tienda in the Biblioteca Pública.