Columns linked to Madame Butterfly

Madama Butterfly at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

Sam Smith

Set in Japan, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly of 1904 explores the relationship between the American naval officer Pinkerton and the Nagasaki born Cio-Cio-San, whom he both affectionately and patronisingly addresses as Madam Butterfly. She takes their love so seriously that she converts to Christianity, and is consequently ostracised by her family. He, on the other hand, sees their marriage as being akin to his Japanese house, which he has on a 999-year lease that he can cancel at any...