The title character of Madama Butterfly—a young Japanese geisha who clings to the belief that her arrangement with a visiting American naval officer is a loving and permanent marriage—is one of the defining roles in opera. The story triggers ideas about cultural and sexual imperialism for people far removed from the opera house, and film, Broadway, and popular culture, in general, have riffed endlessly on it. The lyric beauty of Puccini’s score, especially the music for the thoroughly believable lead role, has made Butterfly timeless.
Leading soprano Hui He plays Madama Butterfly with tenor Piero Pretti in his Met debut as Pinkerton. Plácido Domingo sings Sharpless for the first time with Elizabeth DeShong as devoted servant Suzuki.