Madama Butterfly

MADAMA_BUTTERFLY_Photo_courtesy_of_Opera_Australia110 years after it was first performed at La Scala in Milan, Opera Australia presents a strikingly modern adaption of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly as part of Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour.

Spanish creative powerhouse La Fura dels Baus will artistically lead the production, including Director Àlex Ollé, Set Designer Alfons Flores and Costume Designer Lluc Castells. As in previous years, the scale and design of the staging is sure to delight, with Madama Butterfly featuring a giant sun and moon rising from the Harbour, a Japanese bamboo forest and two firework moments in every performance.

An American visiting Japan – Pinkerton – takes a shine to local girl Cio-Cio San (whom he names Madama Butterfly). Pinkerton tells his confidant Sharpless that the marriage is purely of convenience, and that he intends to take an American bride as soon as feasible.

However, Butterfly is in love with Pinkerton, and despite her friend Suzuki’s warning, her loyalty is steadfast. After an extended absence, Pinkerton returns to Japan where love and heartache unfold.

Led by Hiromi Omura and Hyeseoung Kwon as Cio-Cio-San (Madama Butterfly), the Madama Butterfly company hails from 11 different countries, with two principal casts alternating performances including Georgy Vasiliev and Andeka Gorrotxategi as Pinkerton, Anna Yun and Victoria Lambourn as Suzuki, and Michael Honeyman and Barry Ryan as Sharpless.

The production will also feature Graeme Macfarlane as Goro, Gennadi Dubinsky as Bonze, Celeste Lazarenko as Kate Pinkerton, Sitiveni Talei as Yamidori, Simon Meadows as the Commissioner and Adam Player as the Registrar.

Madama Butterfly features some of the opera world’s most iconic arias including Cio-Cio-San’s Un bel dì vedremo (One Beautiful Day). The story has been the basis of several other works including musicals Miss Saigon and Cho Cho, Broadway play M. Butterfly, 5 screen adaptations, Malcolm McLaren’s 1984 electro-opera hit Madame Butterfly and even Weezer’s alternative rock album  Pinkerton.

It takes 626 cast, crew, musicians and production staff to stage the show. The stage itself is undulating to mimic the hills of Japan and features a full bamboo garden – made locally in Australia. Two 24-tonne, remote-controlled cranes form part of the set, moving giant billboards around the stage.

The show features two inflatable orbs to represent the sun (12m diameter) and the moon (6m diameter). The sun orb has its own barge to give the impression it is rising from the Harbour. The stage has been designed to become an extension of the Royal Botanical Gardens itself, utilising 1279sqm of artificial turf.

Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour has become one of the most accessible and inclusive opera events ever staged in Australia, with more than 44% of the near 41,000 people who saw the production in 2013 (Carmen) having never attended an Opera Australia event.

Madama Butterfly
Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour
Fleet Steps, Mrs Macquaries Road, Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney
Season: 21 March – 12 April 2014
Bookings: (02) 9318 8200 or online at:

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: courtesy of Opera Australia