‘…brilliantly designed by Nicky Shaw and atmospherically lit by Mark Jonathan,’

The Times October 18, 2016

‘…immensely rewarding.’

The Stage October 18, 2016

‘Stylishly attired in the latest American fashions, Karah Son plays a Butterfly who knows dignity and suffering, and the South Korean soprano sings with warmth and beauty,’

Financial Times October 18, 2016

‘Matteo Lippi sang so beguilingly that he avoided what has become the customary pantomime booing at his curtain call.’

The Telegraph October 18, 2016
  • Details

    Glyndebourne’s first ever production of Madama Butterfly, directed by Annilese Miskimmon.

    Derived from a true story of a Japanese geisha married and abandoned by an American sailor, Puccini’s popular masterwork unfolds as a disastrous clash of East and West. In Glyndebourne’s first-ever production of Madama Butterfly, director Annilese Miskimmon delves deep into the humanity of the ill-fated Cio-Cio San and the American naval officer who marries her after both fall prey to false and dangerous stereotypes of one another’s cultures.

    Puccini’s use of authentic Japanese scales and folk melodies gives the music an irresistibly exotic flavour. Yet Madama Butterfly is Italian opera at its melodious and moving best, featuring such beloved numbers as the well-known ‘Flower Duet’, ‘Humming Chorus’, and the heart-rending aria ‘ Un bel dì, vedremo’.

    Sung in Italian with English supertitles

    Running time

    Madama Butterfly runs for 2 hours 30 minutes and includes a 20-minute interval. See dates and times tab for more information.


    Half-price tickets are available for the following groups for tickets priced at £39 or above:

    • Under-18s
    • Full-time students
    • Anyone receiving Jobseekers’ Allowance, Income Support or Pension Credit

    Concessions are valid for weekday performances at Glyndebourne. Proof of eligibility is required. Please note that only one discount may be claimed per person. All offers are limited and may be withdrawn.

    Tour 2016 is supported by Arts Council England and sponsored by the Daily Mail.

  • Cast and creative team

    Creative team

    Conductor John Wilson, Gareth Hancock (16, 19, 23, 26, 30 Nov; 3, 7, 10 Dec)
    Director Annilese Miskimmon
    Designer Nicky Shaw
    Lighting Designer Mark Jonathan
    Movement Director Kally Lloyd Jones
    Video Designer Ian William Galloway
    Assistant Conductor Gareth Hancock
    Music Preparation Matthew Fletcher, Steven Maughan, Duncan Williams
    Language Coach Marco Canepa
    Assistant Director PJ Harris
    Staff Director Rachael Hewer
    Supertitles Cori Ellison

    Glyndebourne Tour Orchestra
    Leader Richard Milone

    The Glyndebourne Chorus
    Chorus Master Jeremy Bines


    Lieutenant BF Pinkerton Matteo Lippi
    Goro Alun Rhys-Jenkins
    Suzuki Claudia Huckle
    Sharpless Francesco Verna
    Cio-Cio-San Karah Son, Meeta Raval (30 Nov)
    The Cousin Irina Loskova*
    Cio-Cio-San’s Mother Thomasin Trezise*
    Yakusidé, Cio-Cio-San’s Uncle Michael Wallace*
    The Aunt Pamela Wilcock*
    Imperial Commissioner John Mackenzie-Lavansch*
    Official Registrar Edmund Danon*
    Bonze Michael Druiett
    Prince Yamadori Adam Marsden
    Sorrow Ethan Kerr, Rupert Wade
    Kate Pinkerton Marta Fontanals-Simmons

    *Soloist from the Glyndebourne Chorus

  • Synopsis

    Act I

    Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton, a young US Navy lieutenant stationed in Japan, has arranged with Goro, amarriage broker, to acquire a 15-year-old Japanese bride, Cio-Cio-San(also known as Butterfly). Pinkerton has taken a 999-year lease on a home overlooking Nagasaki harbour; this lease, as well as hismarriage, can conveniently be cancelled at a month’s notice. Sharpless, the American Consuland Pinkerton’s friend, arrives to witness the signing of the wedding contract. He warns Pinkerton not totreat the marriage lightly, as his bride-to-be is truly in love with him. Pinkerton claims to be smitten withButterfly, but he then proposes a toast to the American woman he will one day wed. Butterfly arrives. She tells Sharpless that her family was once wealthy, but hard times forced her to become a geisha. After Butterfly admits that her father is dead, Goro tells Pinkerton that he committed ritual suicide atthe Emperor’s command. Butterfly’s relatives arrive and the formalities proceed. The festivities areinterrupted when the Bonze, Butterfly’s uncle, enters to denounce her for forsaking their ancestralreligion. Pinkerton angrily orders the guests to leave. He comforts the distraught Butterfly, and thenewlyweds proclaim their love.  

    Act II

    Pinkerton has been gone from Nagasaki for three years. Suzuki, Butterfly’s companion, fears that he willnot keep his promise to return, yet Butterfly is sure that he will. Sharpless arrives to read Butterfly aletter he has received from Pinkerton, who has since taken an American wife. Goro interrupts, usheringin Prince Yamadori, a potential suitor for Butterfly who she dismisses. When Sharpless finally readsPinkerton’s letter to Butterfly, she gradually realises that she has been abandoned. She sends for heryoung son, Sorrow, certain that Pinkerton will return when he learns that he has a son. Butterfly insiststhat she would rather die than be a geisha again. Suddenly, a cannon booms in the harbour, signalingthe arrival of Pinkerton’s ship. Butterfly and Suzuki decorate the house and await Pinkerton’s return inan all-night vigil.  

    Act III

    Early in the morning, Pinkerton, his American wife Kate, and Sharpless arrive at Butterfly’s house. Butterfly is asleep, so they ask Suzuki to tell her that they wish to take Sorrow away to live with them inAmerica. Pinkerton flees in remorse. Butterfly enters to discover Kate there and soon realises who sheis. She reluctantly agrees to surrender her child if Pinkerton will come for him in half an hour. Afterbidding farewell to Sorrow, Butterfly takes the only option she feels is left to her. Pinkerton rushes intothe house and faces the consequences of his actions.

  • Dates and times


    Date Start Interval Finish
    Fri 14 October 7.00pm 20 mins 9.30pm
    Mon 17 October 7.00pm 20 mins 9.30pm
    Thu 20 October 7.00pm 20 mins 9.30pm
    Sun 23 October 4.00pm 20 mins 6.30pm
    Wed 26 October 7.00pm 20 mins 9.30pm
    Sat 29 October 4.00pm 20 mins 6.30pm
    Tue 1 November 4.00pm 20 mins 6.30pm
    Thu 3 November 7.00pm 20 mins 9.30pm

    Milton Keynes Theatre

    Date Start Interval Finish
    Wed 9 November 7.15pm 20 mins 9.45pm
    Sat 12 November 7.15pm 20 mins 9.45pm

    Canterbury, The Marlowe Theatre

    Date Start Interval Finish
    Wed 16 November 7.15pm 20 mins 9.45pm
    Sat 19 November 7.15pm 20 mins 9.45pm

    Norwich, Theatre Royal

    Date Start Interval Finish
    Wed 23 November 7.15pm 20 mins 9.45pm
    Sat 26 November 7.15pm 20 mins 9.45pm

    Woking, New Victoria Theatre

    Date Start Interval Finish
    Wed 30 November 7.15pm 20 mins 9.45pm
    Sat 3 December 7.15pm 20 mins 9.45pm

    Plymouth, Theatre Royal

    Date Start Interval Finish
    Wed 7 December 7.15pm 20 mins 9.45pm
    Sat 10 December 7.15pm 20 mins 9.45pm