Madama Butterfly: A Documentary

Investigations on Robert Wilson's production in Amsterdam

It is the first time that conductor Edo de Waart and stage director Robert Wilson give a version of Puccini's Madame Butterfly: the result is a most original performance.

When Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton, Lieutenant in the United States Navy, meets the 15 year-old geisha Cio-Cio San (Mrs Butterfly in Japanese), he finds her so exotically lovely that he marries her, and the two lovers quickly have a baby. But the American man only stays for a short time in Nagasaki, and finally goes back to the United States, where he marries another young woman, American this time. Years later, Pinkerton comes back to Japan with his new wife to take his son back to America so he can receive an education. The long awaited come back of Pinkerton in Japan brings desolation to Mrs Butterfly who finally commits suicide.

Robert Wilson aimed at directing a refined version, outside of the all the "fake Japanese, cherry blossom and all of the traditional clichés on Japanese culture." The aesthetics of this production and the acting are largely inspired by Butoh, a Japanese form of dance characterized by slow motion, poetry and minimalism. This staging is uncommon and sometimes challenging for the singers and the conductor, who share this experience with us in this documentary.

Robert Wilson stage director, set designer
Edo de Waart conductor
Cheryl Barker (Cio-Cio San)
Martin Thompson (F.B. Pinkerton)

Duration : 23 min
Production date : 2003
Production : © Opus Arte
Available version(s) : VO ST EN, VO ST FR, VO ST ES

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