There is a small exhibition in La Scala’s museum which looks at the theatre’s previous productions of Madama Butterfly, an opera that had its world premiere at the theatre in 1904. What is surprising is that in all the many concepts and designs there has always been a kimono and fan when so many other operas have received the jeans and piercings treatment, or been given the high-tech and laser look. La Scala’s new production by the Latvian director Alvis Hermanis, which opens the season on 7 December, is similarly reserved and respectful; justly so for the return to Puccini’s original score which was reworked many times after its disastrous reception at La Scala at the beginning of the last century.
There are many reasons for this. Certainly, the culture clash between East and West, a 15-year-old seduced and abandoned by a ‘wicked American’, and the two acts instead of three, were all not liked. This was already something anticipated by Richard Strauss and not loved by a public used to the traditional three acts.
Puccini’s iconic opera Madama Butterfly is no stranger to the Covent Garden stage. The tragic story of the young Japanese girl Cio-Cio-San and her love affair with American Lieutenant Pinkerton has been a favourite with audiences for over 110 years – and now, we’re inviting audiences to explore the opera’s history through a new interactive online resource.