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The Kennedy Center

Washington National Opera: Madame Butterfly

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Washington National Opera: Madame Butterfly

Saturday, May 6, 2017 - Sunday, May 21, 2017

Washington National Opera

In this eye-popping staging of Puccini's immortal tragedy, a dashing American naval officer chooses a naïve young geisha to be his bride, only to betray her--leading to one of the most devastating and legendary final scenes in all of opera.


$25 - $300

Run Time

2 hours, 40 minutes


Madame Butterfly
In Italian with Projected English Titles
Co-Production of Opera Omaha and San Francisco Opera
"The experience of designing in the opera really added an amazing
design point of view in my visual art. Opera is definitely everything:
sound, lights, space, just the whole natural world on the stage."
--Jun Kaneko (The Washington Post)

Explore the development and realization of Kaneko's designs in this fascinating behind-the-scenes guide.

The sun rises on turn-of-the-century Nagasaki, where dashing American naval officer Pinkerton has chosen delicate Cio-Cio-san to be his bride. A naïve young geisha on the verge of womanhood, the clearly smitten and fiercely loyal "Butterfly" dismisses warnings of the lieutenant's ulterior motives. When betrayal inevitably strikes, and Butterfly must endure both shame and sorrow, she decides to take destiny into her own hands--leading to one of the most devastating and legendary final scenes in all of opera.
This dramatic staging of Puccini's beloved masterpiece features dazzling sets and costumes by Jun Kaneko, whose kaleidoscopic designs for 2014's The Magic Flute left WNO audiences spellbound. Madame Butterfly also soars with some of the most treasured music in all of opera, including the extended Act I love duet and the Act II soprano showcase "Un bel dì (One beautiful day)." Don't miss this "superb" and "inventive" production that reminds us "why we love these operas in the first place--and why we keep coming back" (The San Francisco Chronicle).

Performance Timing: Act 1 - 50 min.; Intermission - 25 min.; Acts 2 & 3 - 82 min.

Performance Advisory: Please note that Friday, May 19 is the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Performance, featuring current and former Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists in nearly all of the major roles. 


Ermonela Jaho * (5/6, 8, 10, 13, 15, 18 & 20)
Sae-Kyung Rim * (5/7, 11, 14, 17 & 21)
Yunah Lee * (5/9)
Raquel González ‡ (5/19)
Brian Jagde * (5/6, 8, 10, 13, 15, 18 & 20)
Dimitri Pittas * (5/7, 9, 11, 14, 17 & 21)
Chaz’men Williams-Ali * (5/19)
Troy Cook * (5/6, 8, 10, 13, 15, 18 & 20)
Trevor Scheunemann ± (5/7, 9, 11, 14, 17 & 21)
Hunter Enoch ‡ (5/19)
Kristen Choi * (all but 5/19)
Daryl Freedman ‡ (5/19)
Goro: Ian McEuen
The Bonze: Timothy J. Bruno ‡
Yamadori: Michael Adams ‡
Kate Pinkerton: Allegra De Vita ‡
Commissioner: Andrew Bogard ‡
Registrar: James Shaffran

[4/3 casting update: Hei-Kyung Hong, who was originally announced for the role of Cio-Cio-San, has withdrawn from the production.]


Conductor: Philippe Auguin
Director: Leslie Swackhamer *
Production Designer: Jun Kaneko
Lighting Designer: Gary Marder *
Choreographer: Adam Noble *
Hair and Makeup Designer: Anne Ford-Coates for Elsen Associates
Assistant Director: Cindy C. Oxberry
Stage Manager: Lynn Krynicki

Musicologist Saul
Lilienstein leads the Wednesday, May 10 Opera Insight, starting 1 hour and 15 minutes before the performance and lasting 35–40 minutes. All other Opera Insights start 1 hour before the performance and last 20–25 minutes. Informative and entertaining, Opera Insights take you inside the composer's mind, behind the scenes of planning a production, and into the history and social context of each opera.
These lectures are free, but patrons must present a ticket from any performance of Madame Butterfly.
Following select performances:
Sunday matinee, May 7
Monday evening, May 8
Sunday matinee, May 14
Monday evening, May 15
Sunday matinee, May 21
Don't miss your opportunity to engage directly with our artists and share your thoughts on the experience you just had! Here's your chance to ask questions and get the inside scoop on the production from members of the cast and creative team.
All discussions begin immediately after the performance and are free with your ticket.

Watch and Listen

Washington National Opera: Madame Butterfly - Un Bel Di Excerpt

Washington National Opera: Madame Butterfly Trailer

WNO Commentary: Madame Butterfly 1 of 6: Act One: A hillside near Nagasaki - A conversation for two Americans and a Japanese marriage broker.

WNO Commentary: Madame Butterfly 2 of 6: Act One: A hillside near Nagasaki - The bride and the groom.

WNO Commentary: Madame Butterfly 3 of 6: Act Two: Three years have gone by - ‘Povera donna, sola, abbandonata...’ - ‘A poor woman, alone, abandoned.

WNO Commentary: Madame Butterfly 4 of 6: Act Two: Three years have gone by - The ship returns.

WNO Commentary: Madame Butterfly 5 of 6: Act Three: In the morning - The husband returns

WNO Commentary: Madame Butterfly 6 of 6: Act Three: In the morning - The woman's decision: “To die with honor when one

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