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This Day in History - February 17

The opera 'Madama Butterfly' premiered.
Video | February 17, 2017


On this day in Milan, 1904, Giacomo Puccini's opera, Madama Butterfly, premiered. Arguably, one of the finest operas ever written, it is the 6th most performed opera in the world. Two of Puccini's other operas, La boheme and Tosca, are both in the top five.

The story is about a romance between an American naval officer and a trusting geisha. Duty bound, she faces the tragic aftermath of their love alone. 

The original version of the opera, an opera in two acts, was poorly received. Puccini had just finished the piece and rehearsal time was at a minimum. After further revisions, turning the two act opera into three, it became popular.

The Seattle Opera recently announced that they will be performing the show as part of the 2017-18 season. You can learn about the coming production, here. They have performed it several times in the past. You can see highlights of those shows, and Encore Arts Programs, here. The San Francisco Opera performed it as part of the 2013-14 season. You can read that Encore Arts Program, here.

A song from Madama Butterfly:

The first filmed adaptation of the opera, starring Mary Pickford in 1915:

An aria:

And the opera in full: