Madama Butterfly

By Giacomo Puccini

San Diego Civic Theatre
1100 Third Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101

Friday, April 26, 2024 at 7:30 pm

Sunday, April 28, 2024 at 2:00 pm

Lead Production Sponsors

Darlene Marcos Shiley

Lee and Frank* Goldberg

Production Sponsors
The Estate of James Algert, a true opera lover
Bill and Clarice Perkins
Stacy and Don Rosenberg

Artist Sponsors
Candace Carroll*, Esq. and Len Simon for soprano Corinne Winters (“Butterfly”)
Mary Ellen Clark for mezzo-soprano Stephanie Doche (“Suzuki”)
Veronica and Miguel Leff for Maestro Yves Abel
Heidi Munzinger and John Shott for tenor Joel Sorensen (“Goro”)

* In memoriam

Puccini’s Madama Butterfly is passionate, poignant and haunting, and features some of the greatest musical moments from the composer’s long career.


Amidst the cherry blossoms of Nagasaki, a young woman makes a stand to support herself as a geisha after her disgraced father takes his life. Fate intervenes and brings her an American Naval Officer and she falls desperately in love. Unaware she is just a distraction to him, she believes they are married and renounces her religion as he sails away promising to return. And he does return, ready to take their child and raise him with his American wife.  With her broken heart, she must choose to live with dishonor or die with honor.

These performances star soprano Corinne Winters (last heard as Violetta in 2017’s La traviata) and tenor Adam Smith as Pinkerton in his Company debut. San Diego Opera’s Principal Conductor Yves Abel returns to lead the San Diego Symphony with Jose Maria Condemi directing these performances.

LANGUAGE – Sung in Italian with English and Spanish text projected above the stage

RUN TIME – 2 hours and 30 minutes, including one intermission.

Madama Butterfly In Discussion

In preparation for our upcoming production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, San Diego Opera will host a series of online conversations. Click here for more information and to RSVP.

Pre-Opera Talk

The pre-opera talk begins at 6:40 pm before the 7:30 pm Friday evening performance. The Sunday matinee pre-opera talk begins at 1:10 pm before the 2:00 pm curtain.

Mainstage Post-Opera Talk-Back

Stay after the Sunday matinee performance for a Talk-Back. Once the curtain falls, there will be a 10-minute break, then join us in the front of the Dress Circle section where you can ask questions of the stars and cast (subject to availability), and find out what really happened onstage and backstage during the performance!

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Corinne Winters

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Adam Smith
Lt. Pinkerton

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Stephanie Doche

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Kidon Choi

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Joel Sorensen

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Søren Pedersen
Prince Yamadori

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DeAndre Simmons
The Bonze

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Andrew Konopak
The Imperial Commissioner

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Emily Weinberg
Kate Pinkerton

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James Schindler
The Official Registrar

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Frank Napolitano

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Carly Cummings

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Diana Farrell

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Mary Boles-Allen

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Addison Smyres

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Yves Abel

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Jose Maria Condemi

Synopsis in English


Act I

In the American Consulate in Nagasaki, Goro, a marriage broker, explains the features of a local home to the U.S. Navy Lieutenant B.F. Pinkerton, who recently leased the place for 999 years, with the option to cancel the contract with a month’s notice. As part of the deal, Pinkerton receives three servants and takes a geisha wife known as Madama Butterfly (Cio-Cio-San). The American Consul, Sharpless, arrives and Pinkerton explains his philosophy of life—a navy man’s life of pleasure, roaming the seas in search of adventure with a girl in every port. Sharpless cautions the officer that Cio-Cio-San may not take their wedding vows as lightly as he. Pinkerton dismisses the Consul’s warnings and toasts the day he takes a “real” American wife. Cio-Cio-San arrives and explains to Sharpless and Pinkerton that her family was once wealthy, but lost their status. Goro tells them that her father committed suicide on the instructions of the Mikado. Naively but with no shame, she informs the men she became a geisha to stay alive. Cio-Cio-San shows her future husband her meager belongings and humbly declares that, as the ultimate sign of her love, she has converted to the Christian faith. The wedding is brief, more like a business deal. The post-wedding celebration is interrupted by the arrival of the Bonze, Cio-Cio-San’s uncle, a Buddhist priest who berates the young girl for betraying her people and her religion. Pinkerton angrily orders the Bonze and the other guests away and turns to his new wife to console her, drying her tears as night falls.

Act II

Three years have passed since Pinkerton left Nagasaki, and Cio-Cio-San pines for his return. Realizing they have little money left, Suzuki prays to the gods for aid and warns Cio-Cio-San that unless her husband returns, there’ll be nothing but trouble. Cio-Cio-San scolds Suzuki for her lack of faith and confidently predicts that one fine day his ship will appear on the horizon. Sharpless arrives with the intention of reading to her a recent letter from Pinkerton. Starved for company and brimming with questions, Cio-Cio-San doesn’t allow Sharpless to read the letter. His task is further frustrated by Goro, who hovers outside with the Prince Yamadori, the latest in a long line of suitors hoping for the young woman’s hand. Cio-Cio-San scoffs at Yamadori’s offer and dismisses him and Goro. Once they are gone, Sharpless finally resumes reading the letter to Cio-Cio-San, who excitedly interrupts at the end of every hopeful sentence. Unable to cope with her reactions, Sharpless puts the letter away and bluntly asks her what she would do if Pinkerton never returned. Slowly realizing what Sharpless means, Cio-Cio-San rushes out of the room, returning with Pinkerton’s child. She insists Sharpless tell Pinkerton about the boy, optimistic he will return once he knows about his baby. Sharpless, distraught over Cio-Cio-San’s condition, leaves with a promise to pass along her message. A cannon shot is heard from the harbor. Cio-Cio-San sees Pinkerton’s ship. Excitedly, she and Suzuki strew flowers everywhere. Cio-Cio-San changes into her wedding gown and obi so that Pinkerton will see her the way she was on that memorable day. The family waits.


As dawn breaks, Suzuki awakens. Pinkerton has not come to the house. Suzuki insists that Cio-Cio-San get some rest, promising to stir her if Pinkerton arrives. Suzuki is startled by the arrival of Sharpless with Pinkerton. An unknown woman waits outside. Suzuki insists on knowing who she is. Pinkerton cannot bring himself to answer. Finally Sharpless responds: she is Pinkerton’s wife, Kate. Sharpless begs the distraught Suzuki to ask Cio-Cio-San to give up the child so that he might be taken to America. Overcome by guilt, Pinkerton cannot face his Japanese wife and flees the home. Cio-Cio-San breathlessly enters, sensing her husband has arrived. Searching every corner, she cannot find Pinkerton but sees Kate. Instinctively, she knows this woman is Pinkerton’s wife. Cio-Cio-San agrees to surrender her child, but only if Pinkerton himself comes to pick him up. Ordering Suzuki away, Cio-Cio-San picks up the dagger her father used to commit suicide and reads the inscription on the blade: “Let him die with honor who can no longer live with honor.”


Sinopsis en Español


Act I

 En el Consulado Norteamericano de Nagasaki, Goro, un intermediario matrimonial, le explica a el teniente de la Marina Norteamericana B. F. Pinkerton, las características de una casa local, ya que él acaba de rentar el lugar por 999 años, aunque tiene la opción de cancelar el contrato dando aviso un mes antes.  Como parte del trato, Pinkerton recibe tres sirvientes y toma a una geisha conocida como Madame Butterfly como esposa (Cio-Cio-San). El Cónsul Norteamericano, Sharpless llega y Pinkerton le comparte su filosofía de la vida –la vida de un marino llena de placer, deambulando por los mares en busca de aventuras con una novia en cada puerto.  Sharpless le advierte al oficial que Cio-Cio-San no tomará las promesas nupciales tan a la ligera como él. Pinkerton no le hace caso a las advertencias del Cónsul y brinda por el día en que se case con una esposa “real” norteamericana. Cio-Cio-San llega y le explica a Sharpless y a Pinkerton que su familia fue adinerada hace algún tiempo, pero perdieron su estatus social. Goro les dice que su papá se suicidó porque así se lo instruyó el Mikado. Inocentemente pero sin avergonzarse ella les informa a los dos que entonces se volvió geisha para poder sobrevivir. Cio-Cio-San le muestra a su futuro esposo sus escasas pertenencias y humildemente le dice que cómo su mayor prueba de amor, ella se ha convertido a la fe cristiana.   La boda es breve, más como si fuera un negocio.  Después de la boda, la celebración se ve interrumpida por la llegada de Bonze, el tío de Cio-Cio-San, un sacerdote budista quien regaña a la joven por haber traicionado a su gente y a su religión. Pinkerton enojado ordena que se vayan Bonze y los otros invitados y regresa a consolar a su nueva esposa, limpiando sus lágrimas mientras cae la noche.

Act II

 Ya han pasado tres años desde que Pinkerton dejo Nagasaki, y Cio-Cio-San anhela su regreso. Se da cuenta de que les queda poco dinero. Suzuki les reza a los dioses para que las ayuden, pero le advierte a Cio-Cio-San que si no regresa su esposo, no tendrán otra cosa más que problemas. Cio-Cio-San regaña a Suzuki por su falta de fe y pronostica que un buen día su barco aparecerá en el horizonte. Sharpless llega con la intensión de leerle a Cio-Cio-San una carta reciente de Pinkerton.  Deseosa de compañía y llena de preguntas, Cio-Cio-San no le permite a Sharpless leer la carta. Su intensión se ve frustrada aún más por Goro, quien merodea afuera de la casa con el príncipe Yamadori, el último de la enorme lista de pretendientes que esperan poder obtener la mano de la joven.  Cio-Cio-San se burla de la oferta de Yamadori y los echa a él y a Goro. Una vez que se han ido, Sharpless finalmente continua leyendo la carta a Cio-Cio-San, quien con gran excitación lo interrumpe al final de cada frase de esperanza. Sin poder aguantar sus reacciones, Sharpless deja la carta y abiertamente le pregunta lo qué haría si Pinkerton nunca regresara.  Lentamente dándose cuenta de lo que le quiere decir Sharpless, Cio-Cio-San deja la habitación, y regresa con el hijo de Pinkerton. Ella le insiste a Sharpless que le diga a Pinkerton acerca del niño, optimista él regresará cucando sepa de su hijo.  Sharpless consternado acerca de la condición de Cio-Cio-San parte con la promesa de pasarle su mensaje a Pinkerton.  El trueno de un cañón se escucha en el puerto. Cio-Cio-San ve el barco de Pinkerton. Feliz ella y Suzuki colocan flores por todas partes. Cio-Cio-San se cambia y se pone su vestido de bodas y su (obi) cinturón japones, para que Pinkerton la vea como estaba en aquel día memorable. La familia lo espera.


Al amanecer Suzuki despierta.  Pinkerton no ha venido a la casa. Suzuki le insiste a Cio-Cio-San  que descanse un poco, prometiendo despertarla si Pinkerton llega. Suzuki es sorprendida por la llegada de Sharpless con Pinkerton.  Una mujer desconocida espera afuera. Suzuki insiste en saber quién es la mujer. Pinkerton no le puede responder.  Finalmente Sharpless responde: ella es la esposa de Pinkerton, Kate. Sharpless le suplica a la desconsolada Suzuki que le pida a Cio-Cio-San qué les de al niño para que se lo lleven a América.  Agobiado por la culpa, Pinkerton no puede enfrentarse a su esposa japonesa y huye de la casa. Cio-Cio-San sin aliento entra, sintiendo que su esposo ha llegado. Buscando en cada rincón, ella no puede encontrar a Pinkerton pero ve a Kate. Instintivamente, ella sabe que esta mujer es la esposa de Pinkerton. Cio-Cio-San está de acuerdo en darles al niño, pero sólo si Pinkerton mismo viene por él. Ella le pide a Suzuki que se vaya, Cio-Cio-San toma la daga que su padre utilizó para suicidarse y lee la inscripción en el filo: “Deja que muera con honor aquel que no puede vivir con honor”.

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