Madame Butterfly is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini with an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. Puccini based his opera on the short story Madame Butterfly by John Luther Long, which was dramatised by David Belasco.
The original version of Madame Butterfly premiered in 1904 at La Scala in Milan. It was very poorly received due to the late completion and inadequate time for rehearsals. Puccini revised the opera and split the second act into two acts. On May 28, 1904, this version was performed in Brescia and was a huge success. Nowadays, Madame Butterfly is a staple of the standard operatic repertoire for companies around the world and its beautiful and heart-breaking arias are some of the most recognised and popular.
Madame Butterfly tells the story of Cio-Cio San and it is set in the Japanese city of Nagasaki. Lieutenant Pinkerton and Lieutenant Barton are on shore-leave in the city and they call into a local bar, where Pinkerton spies Cio-Cio San. Barton counsels Pinkerton that he can marry this beautiful Japanese girl, enjoy himself with cultural approval, then sail happily on back to America unshackled, since abandonment equates with divorce in Japan. Barton assures Pinkerton that once he has gone, Cio-Cio San will be free to marry whomever she chooses from amongst the Japanese people. When Pinkerton's ship sails out of port, Butterfly waits patiently for her husband to come home. Three years pass and always with an eye towards the harbour, Butterfly waits to surprise her husband with their son. Pinkerton arrives in Japan with his American bride by his side. In the final act, Cio-Cio San agrees that Pinkerton and his wife can return with her son to America.
Tragically, she then prepares for her suicide.This stunning work of art is produced, in accordance with the artist’s customary technique of cutting and shaping only the labels taken from bottles of fine wine in order to create the collage. All the wines used here emanate from Japan, so as to add to the atmosphere of the scene.