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Madama Butterfly

Un Bel Di/One Beautiful Day

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Cristina Gallardo-Domas


Puccini’s Madama Butterfly is often called the best opera ever written. Set in 1904 in Japan, it tells the story of United States Naval Officer Pinkerton, who rents a house in Nagasaki and marries Cio-Cio San, a young Japanese girl. Unfortunately, as he tells his lieutenant, he intends to abandon her when his tour of duty is finished.

Nevertheless, they marry and live together until his tour of duty calls him back to the sea. Three years later, and with a young son, Cio-Cio San waits for Pinkerton’s return. In this aria, “Un Bel Di/One Beautiful Day” she sings that one beautiful day they will see a puff of smoke on the horizon and Pinkerton’s ship will appear and enter the harbor. She will wait on the hill for him to come to her.

This is one of the more tragic of Puccini’s operas, so you can be sure that Pinkerton does not return to Butterfly as she dreams that he will.

Jessica Knight

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