GP at the Met: Madama Butterfly
Preview of Madama Butterfly

Anthony Minghella’s sumptuous production of Madama Butterfly, Giacomo Puccini’s heartbreaking tale of love and betrayal, offers viewers a rare visual treat Saturday, June 20 at Noon (ET) on Great Performances at the Met on PBS HD (check local listings).

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Great Performances at the Met is a presentation of THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG – one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers.

Minghella, who died unexpectedly in March 2008, marks his debut in opera with the re-staging of Madama Butterfly – this is also the first time in 20 years that a new production has opened at the Met. The New York Times described it as “a gorgeous cinematic spectacle.”

Soprano Patricia Racette stars as Cio-Cio-San, the young geisha who chooses to die honorably, rather than suffer in shame after learning of her husband’s betrayal. Racette returns to the Met stage after her first appearance in the title role drew a wide-range of critical acclaim. “Her singing was robust, nuanced and passionate,” raved The New York Times. “In every dimension, Ms. Racette’s effort was exceptional; hers is a performance not to be missed.” Tenor Marcello Giordani co-stars as Cio-Cio-San’s American husband Pinkerton. The telecast also features mezzo-soprano Maria Zifchak as Cio-Cio-San’s maid Suzuki and baritone Dwayne Croft as Sharpless.

Madama Butterfly, conducted by Patrick Summers, features costumes by Han Feng, with sets by Michael Levine, lighting by Peter Mumford, choreography by Carolyn Choa, and puppetry by the Blind Summit Theater.

Great Performances at the Met: Madama Butterfly is the ninth of 11 productions airing this season on the series. It is sung in Italian with English surtitles. The production was transmitted onstage as part of The Met: Live in HD March 7, 2009, and recorded for this telecast.

Ranked as number one in Opera America’s list of the 20 most-performed operas in North America, Madama Butterfly wasn’t well-received when it opened initally in February 1904. Puccini revised the opera, and several months later, it opened to much success.

Great Performances is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, public television viewers, and PBS. Corporate support for Great Performances at the Met is provided by Toll Brothers. Special funding for the telecast was provided by The Annenberg Foundation.

For the Met, Mia Bongiovanni and Elena Park are Supervising Producers, and Louisa Briccetti and Victoria Warivonchik are Producers. Peter Gelb is Executive Producer. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is series producer; David Horn is executive producer.

  • robert harless

    Having, years ago, performed both Goro and Yamadori. I am more than familiar with this opera. After just watching, I am still trembling.. What a fabulous performance and production…BRAVO and BRAVA!

  • Helaine Gari

    Outstanding drama; voices to make one shiver with excitement . The energy is palpable, the inovative production most welcomed.

  • Carol Rosenfeld

    What a beautiful and moving re-shaping and staging of this most popular opera. Heart rendering performances.Would love to see it again.

  • elouise


  • Eleanor Grayson Clark

    Having sung “Butterfly” years ago and seen it many times since, I approached this current production with a “show me” attitude. Well, you did! I was glued to my set and can’t wait to see it again.

  • Mary Bailey

    Will this be shown again or is it possible to get a copy? I missed it and am told it was brilliant.

  • Lindsey Florence

    I so enjoyed this performance that I would like to
    obtain a video. Also where might I get a libretto
    in English?
    Thanks for a memorable afternoon.



  • Robert Huber

    The most beautiful Madame Buterfly I have ever seen. Heartbreakingly sad and soufully touching. I must see it again and feel its power and beauty.

  • Hanna Hyland

    Incredible performance, heartbreaking and shattering. ====The staging and puppets were a wonderful surprise. Thank you PBS for making this Madame Butterfly an unforgettable experience .

  • myskylark

    I started watching this incredible performance at 8PM and I was glued to the TV. I didn’t move from my chair. When it ended I remembered I forgot to take out the garbage. Believe me, nothing makes me forget to take out the garbage, but this magnificent, heartbreaking performance had me in another world. I would like a dvd of this performance so I could watch it again and again.

  • Anna Remon

    What a superb performance of that beautiful opera. Patricia Racette’s performance was wonderful. Her voice is beautiful and her acting, tremendous. The staging was a feast for the eyes. Thank you to all the talented people who created such a magnificent, unforgettable experience.

  • Judith Meisels

    Magnificent and exciting singing, acting, costumes, staging, the orchestra, chorus & great synchronizing of all in Puccini’s masterpiece. A memorable evening!! BRAVA!! I missed Saturday’s show. I must see it again, please rebroadcast it and also on Sunday Arts, if possible so my young pianist students and parents can view it and perhaps see good reason to buy the DVD if and when you make it available to all. ENCORE, ENCORE! Thank you, thank you!

  • Sheila Lanz-Jimenez

    Why is it that any classical music performance is no longer presented in Prime Time, at least on KCET? Why are the few Clasical Music performances of any kind hidden away during the day time. It is very difficult for me to watch television during the day, as I am usually involved with other things. Does PBS think that putting on CLASSICAL MUSIC is something to be ashamed of.
    Another thing that is driving me crazy is that I was sure that a BALLET performance was advertised on the June KCET Program Guide. I misplaced the guide but have looked without success for any Ballet production every evening this month.

  • Anne MacBryde

    The production was absolutely awesome. The staging with all the Japanese minimal influences–pupperts, origami, latterns, were wonderful and Patricia Racette was a force of nature. Bravo.

  • Phil Castillo

    EXCELLENT, moving, emotionally powerful performance by Patricia Racette. A great mix of American & Japanese Art

  • cecilia t. rosado

    would like to purchase video or dvd of performance of Madame Butterfly i viewed on Sunday afernoon on June 28th.Is this possible? Please advise. Thank you

  • Beatrice Lindeman

    Congratulations PBS! This was an exquisite performance. Patricia Racette et al. were beautiful. Thank you for enriching my life.

  • Brian Mulligan

    Simply wonderful. Stumbled upon this when flipping through the channels, and training in the ways of the opera myself, I thought it would be something to look at. I was right! Amazing cast and amazing voices. Good Job PBS!

  • heather nolle

    when I lived in NJ we went regularly to the Met Opera, but Butterfly was not one of my favorites. I have just seen the performance on 6/28/09 with Patricia Racette and the new staging and it is awesome! Use of screens and so many other settings, presentation of the little boy – so clever – I was transfixed! Congratulations to all!

  • Chris Ghicadus

    I, too, would like to know if a DVD of this
    particular performance is available

  • Gil Perlroth

    Simply fabulous. Is aDVD available?

  • Claudine Hickman

    This production is awesome! When will it be rebroadcast, and when will it be available on DVD?

  • Sheila Yeomans

    What an incredible production and powerful performance!! Thank you and bravi tutti! More of this type of truly Great Performances (symphony, opera,choral, ballet, recital) PLEASE!! Like the Los Angeles viewer, I am frustrated that the Dallas affiliate seems to downplay classically oriented Great Performances. This Butterfly was broadcast the Sunday afternoon of the 4th of July weekend. Riu and Bocelli get prime time…and I watch something else. Thank you for providing these moving, meaningful performances.

  • robert bundy

    did minghella stage production live in 2006?

  • Cindy Thurston

    Very moving performance by all. The puppetry of the young child was wonderful. The stage settings were minimal and very effective. All my emotions were brought to the surface, pain, sorrow, worry, anticipation,joy and heartbreak. Thank you for showing such a wonderful production.

  • Ron Robinson

    Watching this opera is an emotional experience. Patricia Racette’s Cio-Cio-San reaches out and grabs your heart and doesn’t let go. You feel her joy then her pain and anguish on being abandonded by Pinkerton. The production is magnificent. It’s hard to adequately describe Patricia Racette’s performance in words, she simply is Cio-Cio-San. When she sings Un Bel Di Vedremo and you watch her exquisite performance, well, your heart aches and there will be tears. Then you will have to see it again!

    Ron Robinson
    Fairfax, VA

  • Margaret Swiderski

    I happened upon this remarkable performance by chance and it will remain one of the most memorable performances of Madama Butterfly that I have seen so far! The use of puppetry gave it an aura of a Japanese folk legend and added to the drama of the performance! Absolutely unforgettable!

  • Mary Freeland

    I missed the original broadcast but was lucky to catch a rerun this afternoon (7/19/09). This was by far the most moving of the several productions I have enjoyed in my lifetime. My thanks, and congratulations, to all the artists involved. Please contact me when a DVD is available for purchase.

  • G. Banner

    I just discovered this adaptation of Madama Butterfly online. I missed it. When will it be shown again? Please advise me when a DVD is available. Thank you.

  • Traci Johnson

    I was fortunate enough to actually be @ the Met for this performance and immediately wished to purchase a DVD copy! Thrilled when I heard it there was re-broadcast on PBS–alas, I missed it.PLEASE let me know when/where/how this will be available for purchase-no other production has so enraptured me!

  • Nicandro Ferri

    I saw this production this past Fall live at the Metropolitan Opera. It took my breath away. Patricia Racette was for my money the best Butterfly I have ever heard and seen. Her singing and acting made Butterfly come alive. The rest of the cast and the sets were incredible. I hope the Met releases this production on DVD like they have for other HD Broadcasts. Will it be rebroadcast on any PBS stations?

  • Yvonne Chamberlyn

    The opera is magnificient and the production was GEORGEOUS!! Even though I’m not Racette’s biggest fan ( her singing and acting where good, she doesn’t strike me a a Butterfly-type) I really, really enjoyed it. I almost cried, like I do pretty much every time I hear/watch Puccini.

  • mary nilan

    I’ve seen this opera 6 times-the Minghella production 2x and Patricia Racette is awesome, incredible, spectacular and I liked the puppet in the production. the AM production is a visual treat and brilliant presentation. WHY IS THERE NO DVD FOR THIS OPERA WITH PR-there is no better MB (of course I’m biased, but PR fans understand…

  • Hiroko Gallegos

    I watched this opera today on KQED, San Francisco. Although I don’t know much about operas, I do enjoy when I see them. I loved the whole thing, the singing and the modern stage work. I agree with all the comments about this opera before me. Being a Japanese, I especially enjoyed the integration of Kabuki and Bunraku (Japanese puppet), and the minimal stage settings like Noo play. Only thing I felt uncomfortable, however, was the Japanese costumes. While the American costumes were close to the real thing, Japanese costumes were too far-fetched, even though I realize they were also changed to go with the art form of this opera. Especially it terribly bothered me that the bride’s headdress was worn by one of the relatives (her mother?) instead of the bride. There are a few rules you just can’t change. And also, I wished the puppet boy were a bit fairer and the facial features more mixed. He looked just like a Japanese boy, I liked his face though. Am I too fussy? Thank you PBS for the quality programs.

  • Maria Precie

    This is my most favorite opera of all, I just love it. This particular opera is just wonderful and Ms. Patricia Racette performs her role with such feeling, I am still crying and shaking from her powerful portrayal. Thank you so much for airing this opera. The props, production, costumes, and supporting cast were just wonderful!

  • Elfriede Witte

    I watched the opera in Munich in a live performance from the Met on 7 March 2009. I was just overwhelmed. For me the addition of the puppet boy added such a strong emotional element. His little face is haunting me ever since. I join Mary Nilan’s urgent question: Why is there no DVD for this opera. Of course it should be available in Germany then as well.

  • Janine Keat

    I need a DVD of this performance…why isn’t it available?? The most wonderful performance I have ever seen of this or any opera.

  • Anibal Salazar

    Excellent production BRAVO to Mr.Anthony Minghella,
    Ms.Patricia Racette is superb, Ms. Maria Zifchak is great Mr. Giordani Booo booo booo

  • Michael McDonald

    A stunning performance. My wife and I are still awaiting news of a DVD release!

  • Eva Cornelius

    Where can I purchase the DVD or Cd of this Production? Tank you Eva Cornelius

  • olena kassian

    Two scenes in this production were so powerful that they inspired my current project, which is to articulate my response to the music in drawings on mylar. It would be of great assistance to refer to them again. Would it be possible to purchase a DVD? (I live in Toronto, happy to pay shipping.)

    If not, will the production be rebroadcast?

    Thank you.

    Olena Kassian

  • Jeff Rensch

    Like the other respondents, I was bowled over by this — particularly interaction of Racette and the puppet. This is a must have. It simply must show up on dvd or some other medium for us to share in perpetuity. A year has passed and the power has not diminished

  • Marg Edwards

    I am an Aussie fan of opera and Patricia Racette, and I felt very privileged to see the Met HD performance at our cinema here in rural Wagga Wagga. I was blown away by the settings and especially the powerful and emotional performance of Ms Racette. At the end, I couldn’t leave as I was so emotionally affected and just wanted to make the experience last. I have seen several other screen versions of Butterfly, and this was by far the best!!

    Ms Racette must have incredible strength, fitness and endurance to sing or be on stage for 3 hours each performance, and I can only admire her more for these qualities. I would love to acquire a DVD and I’m still trying, through the internet and local music stores to track it down. My partner would love to see it as would several of my friends who missed out on it. Please make one available!!!

  • Felix Blumenfeld

    I saw this Met production for the second time in a theatre earlier this week (as part of the Met’s Summer Encores) and, since I missed it when it was broadcast on PBS, I would very much appreciate if it were broadcast a second time. Patricia’s performance is one that stays in the mind and heart, and it deserves to be seen and heard several times. Let’s hope that DG or Decca will decide to release on DVD.

    By the way, I would be easier not to miss PBS broadcasts if PBS offered an easier and timelier access to its programming for Great Performances at the Met. Each year I spend countless minutes trying to find the information in order to be able to plan my viewing. It is much easier to find information about past events than forthcoming ones.

  • Richard

    There is not a better singing actress performing today than Patricia Racette. Her dynamic spinto soprano, is powerful and beautiful. She inhabits operatic heroines like no one since Callas. Brava diva!

  • Leigh d.

    For over a year now, I have tried to find a way to view the Racette Butterfly. I was not able to see the original HD performance at a theatre. Trying to find it on Great Performances on KCET has proved impossible. I’ve given up on searching for it via your cumbersome online schedule. Couldn’t kcet repeat this highly demanded opera in place of just ONE of the ubiquitous big band, pop oldies, disco or whatever other flavor-of-the-month reruns viewers find incessantly now on their (once-revered) pbs channel? I do enjoy the latter music genres, too, (my age is 70), but the programming of opera versus these other shows is way out of balance. And if KCET is seeking income, why not find a way to offer, through the kcet store, the Butterfly dvd, which seems to be in high demand from your viewers?

  • Irma

    I was lucky enough to be able to tape on VHS just the very last part of this opera on PBS when it was first shown. Occasionally, I go back to hear the beautiful singing and watch in awe as the little “boy” interacts with Butterfly. I watched again today, and I was in the search for the DVD or VHS online when I came to this site. Is there any news of obtaining it now or in the future? I’m grateful to even know about it!

  • Felix Blumenfeld

    On 23 July 2010 I wrote how much I hoped that a DVD of this production of Madama Butterfly with Patrica Racette would be released. Well, a Sony 2-DVD set will become available on 25 January 2011. There is an entry on Amazon.

  • COL

    To have the fake boy and other figures to be held by two men covered with black looks really stupid and spooky. Yuk! It shouldn’t be that expensive to get a little boy to perform.

  • jorge

    Love to have a little of this perfomance… to ear her voice…thankss

  • Kim Olesnevich

    Been lurking through the WP to TVtime101, back to WP, and now here transition, but here’s my first post.Every time I hear Jill insinuate that Mario’s cheating on Ramona by saying “I heard it from my social circle,” or however she phrased it, I want to scream “Pro tip, Jill: Stop listening to those voices in your head!”LuAnn was funny in a completely unintended way. Whenever Andy would show a clip of her making a catty remark, her reaction was to laugh at how clever she thought she had been, then look around to the other brunettes for approval. They were too busy trying to figure out their next insult for Alex to laugh along ot even nod.

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