Madame Butterfly

Sunday, December 17, 2023, 6:30 PM

  • Sunday, December 17, 2023, 6:30 PM
  • Tuesday, December 19, 2023, 6:30 PM

The tragic story of Cio-Cio San, the Japanese woman unhappily in love with an American, has for years remained at number one on the list of the most gladly performed opera works in North America and occupies a similar position in ratings all over the world. So should it be surprising that Giacomo Puccini’s Madame Butterfly returns at the Kraków Opera?

However the work has not always enjoyed such popularity. Growls, shouts, laughs, groans and sniggers – through the cacophony of sounds given out by the audience during the premiere in La Scala in 1904, it was impossible to hear a note. This evening, probably the worst in Puccini’s whole career, turned out to be a complete flop… It wasn’t until after a few revisions had been made that demanding listeners – first in Italy and afterwards the whole world – appreciated this opera.

Several factors determined its success. First of all, the melodiousness of the arias and the appearance of repeating motifs which come and go throughout the whole work, representing individual protagonists (eg. the American Pinkerton’s musical theme is based on the Star Spangled Banner song, which later became the national anthem of the United States). The second factor is the orchestration – full and varied use of the instrumental ensemble harmonises with the rich layer of emotion in the libretto. Finally the exotic factor – after all, the opera’s plot unravels in Nagasaki and the composer deftly weaves motifs from Japanese folk songs into the Italian opera tradition (his consultant in this matter was the wife of the Japanese ambassador to Rome). Also contributing to the success of the opera was the libretto created by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica (based on a play by David Belasco), in which they showed not only an ill-starred love and the conflict between two personalities but also a clash of two cultures.

Even though at the beginning she caused Puccini problems, Madame Butterfly became his favourite character. The opera brought the composer fame and a great deal of money. He bought a luxurious yacht with what he earned, which he called of course… Cio-Cio San.

Giacomo Puccini Madame Butterfly 

Direction: Waldemar Zawodziński
Musical direction: Tomasz Tokarczyk

12 296 62 62 (63)
Other: acceptable for people with disabilities

Kraków Opera

ul. Lubicz 48

During the artistic season, the Kraków Opera presents around 200 performances: world classics, operettas, and ballet and musical productions for children.

During the artistic season, the Kraków Opera presents around 200 performances enjoyed by an audience of nearly 70,000. Its repertoire includes world classics (Carmen, Tosca, la Boheme), operettas (The Gypsy Baron, Die Fledermaus), and ballet and musical productions for children. Polish artists of world renown, notably Małgorzata Walewska, Mariusz Kwiecień, Andrzej Dobber, Wojtek Śmiłek, and Łukasz Borowicz, enjoy working with the Kraków Opera. The popularity of opera productions in Kraków makes it necessary to book tickets long in  advance. The artistic season of the Kraków opera ends on a powerful forte: a summer festival presenting musical productions amid the extraordinary scenery of Wawel Castle courtyard.

Guest performances by theatres and concerts can also be seen on the hospitable stage of the Kraków Opera.

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