Dublin Library is pleased to host an “OperaLive!” performance program by the Livermore Valley Opera featuring principal singers and instrumentalists from their upcoming production of Madama Butterfly. This beloved opera by Giacomo Puccini features some of the most beautiful music and soaring melodies ever composed.  This free program will be held in the Dublin Library Community Room on Sunday, February 27th, from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. 

The fully-staged production of Madama Butterfly by Livermore Valley Opera will be presented in the Bankhead Theater in Livermore on March 12, 13, 19 and 20.  More information on the production at the Bankhead Theater can be obtained here.

The origin of the present-day opera “Madama Butterfly” is a bit complicated.  After successes with the operas “Manon Lescaut,” “La Bohème,” and “Tosca,” Puccini decided to use the plot of a play he’d seen in London by American impresario David Belasco, entitled “Madame Butterfly.”  Though he understood very little English, Puccini felt the appeal of the story as the basis for an opera.  The original English-language play by Belasco had cleverly capitalized on the vogue at the end of the 19th Century for things Japanese.  Belasco’s play had in turn been based on a magazine novella by John Luther Long, which had itself been influenced by the novel “Madame Chrysanthème” by Pierre Loti. 

Puccini’s play had a rather rocky beginning, with an unsuccessful premiere at La Scala in Milan in February 1904, followed by a second premiere at Brescia in May 1904, and the composer made further changes for the premiere in Paris at the Opéra-Comique, on December 28, 1906.  This last version forms the basis for the printed edition of the score used today.

The first U.S. performance was in Washington, D.C., in English, by the Henry W. Savage Opera Company on October 15, 1906; the same company brought “Butterfly” to Manhattan’s Garden Theatre the following month. The Metropolitan Opera premiere, supervised by the composer, was in Italian, on February 11, 1907.

Before seeing excerpts of “Madama Butterfly” or before seeing the complete opera, you can hear and see the libretto, CDs and DVDs of this play in the collection of your Alameda County Library: 

Madam Butterfly : a Japanese tragedy with English-Italian text / Puccini

Melville, N. Y. : Belwin Mills, [196-?]     782.1026M PUCCINI 

Madam Butterfly = Madama Butterfly / Giacomo Puccini

London : J. Calder ; New York : Riverrun Press, 1984      782.10268 PUCCINI 

Madama Butterfly [sound recording] / Puccini ; [libretto, Giuseppe Giacosa, Luigi Illica]

London, England : London ; New York, NY : Manufactured and marketed by Universal Classics Group : Distributed by Universal Music and Video Distribution, [1993]    CD 782.1 PUCCINI 

Madame Butterfly [sound recording] / Giacomo Puccini

Prince Frederick, MD. : Recorded Books, p2006       CD 782.1 PUCCINI 

Madama Butterfly [videorecording] / Giacomo Puccini, [composer] ; produced for television in association with the ABC ; Opera Australia ; producer/director, Cameron Kirkpatrick

West Long Branch, NJ : Kultur, [2008], c1997      D 792.542 MADAMA