GREAT PERFORMANCES AT THE MET: Madama Butterfly
Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021 at 2 p.m. on KPBS 2 / On Demand
Season 14 of GREAT PERFORMANCES AT THE MET continues with Puccini’s tragic love story “Madama Butterfly.” Soprano Hui He stars as the young geisha Cio-Cio-San alongside tenor Bruce Sledge as her husband Lt. Benjamin Pinkerton. Baritone Paulo Szot as Sharpless and mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong as Suzuki complete the cast. Pier Giorgio Morandi conducts.
Anthony Minghella’s production is set in Japan at the turn of the 20th century. Lt. Benjamin Pinkerton of the U.S. Navy inspects a house overlooking the Nagasaki harbor. The house comes with three servants and a geisha wife named Cio-Cio-San, also known as Madam Butterfly.
When Sharpless, the American consul, arrives, Pinkerton tells him about his interest in Butterfly and his intentions to marry her, despite not knowing whether his feelings for Butterfly are love or a whim. Sharpless warns Pinkerton that the girl may view the marriage differently, but Pinkerton brushes off his concerns and says that someday he will take a real American wife.
Butterfly admits she’s 15 and tells Pinkerton that she has been to the Christian mission and will embrace his religion. Butterfly’s uncle, a priest known as the Bonze, arrives and curses her for going to the mission and rejecting her ancestral religion. Pinkerton orders that the Bonze and his relatives leave. As they go, they denounce Butterfly. Despite this, Pinkerton and Butterfly marry.
Three years pass and Butterfly awaits her husband’s return home. Sharpless appears with a letter from Pinkerton, but before he can read it, Goro, a marriage broker, arrives with a suitor for Butterfly. Goro introduces a wealthy prince named Yamadori. Butterfly responds that she’s not available for marriage and that Pinkerton has not deserted her. Pinkerton’s ship arrives back in town, but his return isn’t the reunion she expected.
Christine Goerke hosts.
Conductor: Pier Giorgio Morandi. Production: Anthony Minghella. Director and Choreographer: Carolyn Choa. Set Designer: Michael Levine. Costume Designer: Han Feng. Lighting Designer: Peter Mumford. Puppetry: Blind Summit Theatre. Revival Stage Director: Paula Williams. For the Met, Habib Azar directs the telecast. Tim Martyn is music producer. Mia Bongiovanni and Elena Park are supervising producers, and Louisa Briccetti and Victoria Warivonchik are producers. Peter Gelb is executive producer. For GREAT PERFORMANCES, Bill O’Donnell is series producer; David Horn is executive producer.