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).

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.