Take hankies to this, the most tear-jerking of all operatic tragedies.
Soprano Hui He sings the role of the teenage geisha, Cio-Cio-San or ‘Butterfly’, and tenor Andrea Carè sings Pinkerton, the American naval officer who marries and then abandons her. The opera takes place in the Japanese port city of Nagasaki at the turn of the last century, one of the country’s few ports open to foreign ships and where temporary marriages for foreign sailors – such as Pinkerton and Butterfly’s – were not unusual. But Pinkerton does not begin to understand the depth of Butterfly’s love for him and his subsequent marriage to an American woman precipitates her suicide.
Anthony Minghella’s sweeping production from 2005 remains a stunning application of his cinematic skills and is a Met perennial. Pier Giorgio Morandi is on the podium, with Paulo Szot singing Sharpless and Elizabeth DeShong as Suzuki.