Madame Butterfly




Act I

Goro, the marriage broker, shows Pinkerton the house he has leased as part of his upcoming marriage to the young geisha Cio-Cio-San, also known as Madame Butterfly.  Goro introduces Pinkerton to Suzuki, Cio-Cio-San’s servant. 

Wedding guests arrive, including Sharpless, the American consul to Nagasaki.  Over a toast to his future happiness, Pinkerton confides to Sharpless that he understands that this is only a temporary marriage.  He comments on how, in the future, he looks forward to marrying “for real” to a beautiful American girl.  Sharpless attempts to make Pinkerton understand that the geisha he is marrying may have different feelings, but the young sailor cannot understand what the older man is upset about.

Cio-Cio-San, the bride-to-be, arrives with some of her geisha friends.  Soon the wedding ceremony begins, and Pinkerton and Cio-Cio-San are married.  The celebration is disrupted by her angry Uncle, a priest, who has discovered that Butterfly has rejected Buddhism out of her love for Pinkerton.  The relatives and wedding guests leave, harshly condemning Butterfly. 

Finally alone, Pinkerton attempts to cheer up the distraught girl.  He sings to his young bride of the night’s beauty and the romance that is theirs.  Pinkerton gently leads Cio-Cio-San into the house for their first night together.

Act II, scene 1

Three years have passed since Pinkerton has gone away.  Butterfly has waited faithfully for him, never once losing hope that he will return.  Sharpless, the American Consul, arrives with a letter from Pinkerton.  He attempts to read the letter and break the news gently that Pinkerton is not coming back.  They are interrupted by Goro escorting Prince Yamadori, a prospective new husband, in to see Butterfly.  Much to Goro’s anger, Butterfly insults Yamadori and turns her attention back to Sharpless and the letter.  Sharpless finally informs her of the bad news.  Butterfly brings out a small child, her child by Pinkerton.  She tells Sharpless that she is sure Pinkerton will return when he hears that he has a son.  As he exits, Sharpless promises to tell Pinkerton the news. 

A cannon shot in the harbor announces Pinkerton’s ship.   Butterfly and Suzuki decorate the house with flowers in anticipation of his arrival.  The two women and the child kneel looking toward the path and wait.  Darkness falls.

Act II, scene 2

Evening gives way to early morning, and Pinkerton still does not arrive.  Suzuki and the child have fallen asleep, but Butterfly remains awake throughout the night, keeping watch.  Waiting.  Hoping against hope that she is not wrong, that he will indeed return.  Suzuki convinces her to take the child to bed and to get some rest.

Soon after Butterfly has retired, Sharpless and Pinkerton arrive.  Accompanying them is Kate, Pinkerton’s new American wife.  The men confess to Suzuki why they are there.  Pinkerton and Kate have come to take the baby back to America.  Suzuki knows that Butterfly’s heart will break at this news but realizes there is no way out.  As Suzuki speaks with Kate, Pinkerton is overcome with guilt and runs away, too afraid to even confront Butterfly.  Butterfly’s voice is heard.  She enters full of joy at the prospect of Pinkerton’s return.  Her joy soon turns to sorrow as she grasps the

situation.  She tells Sharpless and Kate that she will give Pinkerton the child, but he must come back himself.

After Sharpless and Kate have gone, Butterfly sends Suzuki off to see to the child.  When she is alone, Cio-Cio-San kneels at the Buddhist shrine and unsheathes the suicide knife.  Suddenly the little boy runs in.  Butterfly, weeping, embraces her son for the final time.  She then sends the child off to play.  Alone again, Butterfly picks up the knife and kills herself.  In her last moments of life, Pinkerton can be heard calling from the distance, but it is

too late.



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