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Madama Butterfly Puccini

In his quest to present Puccini’s operas in their original forms, Riccardo Chailly resuscitated the two-act version of Madama Butterfly, which received its disastrous world premiere at La Scala in 1904. Puccini reworked the opera four times before he settled upon the familiar three-act version from 1907 that we tend to see today. So is this return to the composer’s first intentions really worthwhile?

Italy

TEATRO ALLA SCALA, MILAN

World Premiere

Music ***

Staging ***

Italy’s famed opera house tried to erase the bitter taste of Madama Butterfly’s failed world premiere 112 years ago by creating an idealised vision of Japan: sumptuous costumes, Kabuki theatre’s dazzling stylised movements, projected prints by Hiroshige and Utamaro of early 1900s Japan and an outstanding cast. The gorgeous spectacle garnered 13 minutes of applause from the celebrity-filled firstnight audience that launched La Scala’s new season; but it couldn’t obscure the weaknesses in Puccini’s original version.

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About Opera Now

Baritone Thomas Hampson discusses his influential role as ambassador for opera and the art of singing; composer John Adams on turning 70 and his new opera about the California Gold Rush; Grange Park Opera gets ready for its relaunch at Britain's newest opera house; and the indomitable prowess of the great American soprano Leontyne Price. Plus, introducing a new opera inspired by Pink Floyd's The Wall; movement and pictures in the stagings of Japanese-born director Anna Etsuko Tsuri; the revelations of Dame Felicity Lott; American opera in the age of Trump; a weekend in Boston; and our pick of the best new works coming up stateside.