Madame Butterfly | Puccini

Opera Australia

Madame Madame
A man enchanted by the beauty of the East.
A woman in love with the promise of the West.
Separated by a vast ocean and many years, what will become of their love?

Madame Butterfly is one of the most performed operas throughout the world. Directed by John Bell, one of Australia’s most acclaimed directors, Opera Australia’s (OA) 2018 regional tour production will be fully staged with opulent sets, stunning costumes and wigs, and sublime lighting. It will feature some of Australia’s finest opera singers and a chamber orchestra of 11 players.

Set in post-World War 2 Nagasaki (1946), OA’s production of Madame Butterfly is performed in English, with universal themes that unfold through powerful and direct storytelling.

This opera tells the tale of a young Japanese geisha who marries an American naval officer who then leaves her. It explores themes of devotion and irresponsibility, fidelity and justice. As with most of Puccini’s operas, it features realistically drawn female characters that meet a tragic end, but none of these stories is more poignant than that of Cio-Cio-San, the title heroine of Madame Butterfly.

Cio-Cio-San’s journey takes her from innocence and happy anticipation through failing hope to calm acceptance of the tragic destiny that her personal code of honour demands. But she is no frail victim. Her optimism in the midst of even the darkest of circumstances makes her a heroine in every sense of the word. It is Cio-Cio-San’s touching mixture of sweetness and anguish, vulnerability and courage that elicits some of Puccini’s most emotionally expansive and heartbreakingly tender music.

Opera is a heightened, non-naturalistic form of performance, utilising sung through dialogue and verse to tell the story. The orchestral score expresses the unspoken feelings of the characters and the audience, and provides additional depth and layers of meaning. Madame Butterfly will allow students to develop an understanding of the range of performance techniques used to stage an opera, and at the same time offer a different view of what opera is and can be: not an inaccessible art form that is only for wealthy adults, but a compelling performance genre that speaks directly to the heart and yet is uniquely complex.

As students analyse and evaluate the performers’ interpretation of the libretto/script, they will also be able to recognise the way the creative team have influenced this new adaptation. The direction, set, costume and technical aspects of the show are revealed to be as integral to the production as the individual characteristics and expressive skills of each performer.

Advice to Schools
While the themes are emotionally powerful and complex, there is no nudity or depiction of illicit substances in the work. The depiction of Cio-Cio-San’s suicide is facing away from the audience; however, teachers are advised to read the script and consult with school leadership regarding potential impacts of studying this work on students in their class.

To make a booking or enquiry, simply press the GREEN Enquiry/Booking Request Button above right to directly contact the booking team. They will answer you promptly to discuss your booking including when payment will be required.

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Conductor - Warwick Stengards
Director - John Bell
Set & Costume Designer - Jennie Tate
Set & Costumes Realised By - Julie Lynch
Lighting Designer - Matt Scott
Choreographer - Sachiko Tange

Performed in English

Show Details



Year Level Suitability

7-9 to 10-12

Curriculum area

The Arts - Drama



Drama, Music Theatre


120–180 minutes


Group 10+: $43.90


Drum Theatre (Dandenong, VIC)

School Term:
Term 2, Term 3


Friday 13 July and Saturday 14 July, 7.30pm

PRESS the green button to immediately contact the booking team!

Enquiry/Booking Request