Madama Butterfly


Madama Butterfly

Arts Centre Melbourne, State Theatre

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) update

We’ve cancelled all performances of Madama Butterfly at Arts Centre Melbourne due to the evolving COVID-19 situation. If you have tickets to a cancelled performance, you'll receive an email with details about how to refund or exchange your tickets.

Updated Thursday 19 March.

Constrained, cocooned, caught in a moment of desire, Butterfly is irresistible.

On tour in Japan, the American sailor Pinkerton cannot wait to bed his Japanese bride. But he’s already dreaming of an American life with an American wife. When his ship departs, he condemns Butterfly to purgatory.

This new production is by Australia’s most famous choreographer, Graeme Murphy. It’s a contemporary look at Puccini’s alluring heroine. He captures the grace and gravity of a tale that begins in rapturous love and ends in cruel heartbreak.

The production features floor-to-ceiling LED panels as a dynamic set. Fragments of film flutter across the stage. Puccini’s sublime music imbues this ageless story with beauty, from the irrepressible aria ‘Un bel dì’ (‘One fine day’) to the intense finale.

Hiromi Omura is the most sought-after Butterfly in the world. She returns in the title role along with Andeka Gorrotxategi as Pinkerton.


Fluttering beauty,
caught and pinned for his pleasure,
bound, beautiful still.

Dine before the opera at Arts Centre Melbourne

A couple dines at Arts Centre Melbourne before the operaLet us make it easy for you with pre-performance dining at Café Vic at Arts Centre Melbourne. You'll be served a themed set menu, including matched wine. View the menu.

Simply add the dining option to your cart after selecting tickets. If you already have tickets, sign in to your account to add dinner to your existing booking or call 03 9685 3700.

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Conductor Pier Giorgio Morandi
Director Graeme Murphy
Creative Associate Janet Vernon
Revival Director Shane Placentino
Production Designer Michael Scott-Mitchell
Costume Designer Jennifer Irwin
Lighting Designer Damien Cooper
Digital Content Sean Nieuwenhuis
Cio-Cio-San Hiromi Omura
Suzuki Sian Sharp
Pinkerton Andeka Gorrotxategi
Sharpless Christopher Hillier
Goro Virgilio Marino
The Bonze Gennadi Dubinsky
Yamadori Sitiveni Talei
Kate Pinkerton Jane Ede
Commissioner Alexander Hargreaves
Registrar Gregory Brown

Opera Australia Chorus

Orchestra Victoria

Please note: this production includes a sudden flash of light and may not be suitable for people with photosensitive epilepsy.

Please note: this production includes mature themes including cultural exploitation, sex and suicide.

Running time: approximately 2 hours & 30 minutes, including one interval.

Production Patron

Li Family Trust logo


The StoryHide

The American naval Lieutenant, Pinkerton, fascinated by the exotic beauty of the geisha Cio-Cio-San, marries her while visiting Japan. Cio-Cio-San, enthralled by his American ways and promise of a modern life in America, falls wholeheartedly in love with the stranger. But Pinkerton already has a foot out the door, looking forward to the day he will marry “a real wife, a wife from America.”

Years pass, and Cio-Cio-San waits faithfully for her husband’s return. Long abandoned by her family, she is alone with her servant Suzuki and a living memento of her American love. She refuses all offers of marriage, singing of her great hope for the day Pinkerton will return. The faithful Suzuki tries in vain to convince her to abandon hope.

But when his ship comes in, Pinkerton is not alone. As dawn breaks, what will become of Butterfly’s great hope?

Not afraid of spoilers? Read the full synopsis.

Act I

Opportunistic marriage-broker Goro offers carefree U.S. Navy Lieutenant Pinkerton a house, a servant, Suzuki and a bride, Butterfly. Despite the misgivings of Pinkerton’s friend, the diplomat Sharpless, a hasty wedding takes place.

The marriage celebrations are disrupted by a priest, Butterfly’s uncle. He has learned that Butterfly has renounced her faith and taken the religion of her new husband. She is rejected by family and friends.

Alone, Butterfly and Pinkerton explore a tender intimacy beyond both their imagining.

Act II

Three years have passed and Butterfly, abandoned by Pinkerton, is emotionally fragile. Still she remains fiercely loyal. She rejects Goro’s persistent offer of a husband, the rich Yamadori. Sharpless, knowing that Pinkerton has married an American woman, urges Butterfly to consider Goro’s proposal. Enraged by Sharpless’ suggestion that Pinkerton may never return, Butterfly reveals her son — the treasure of Pinkerton and Butterfly’s brief union. Butterfly believes this will ensure Pinkerton’s return. Sharpless promises to inform him. Suzuki tells Butterfly that Goro is spreading vile rumours about the child and they attack him. As Goro escapes their wrath a cannon signals Pinkerton’s return.

In deranged joy, Butterfly asks Suzuki to adorn the house with flowers, even though the garden is long dead. Butterfly, Suzuki and the child wait for Pinkerton’s return. Butterfly descends into a fearful dream world. Suzuki urges Butterfly and the child to rest. She meets Pinkerton, Sharpless and a foreign woman and is devastated to learn it is Pinkerton’s wife, Kate. Pinkerton, wretched with remorse is unable to face Butterfly and flees. Butterfly finds Pinkerton absent. She quickly realises that the strange woman is his wife and that she has come to take the child.

Inconsolable and alone, Butterfly takes her own life.

Allow us to make your dinner reservation before evening performances: 6pm at Café Vic at Arts Centre Melbourne. You'll be served a themed three-course set menu for just $90, including matched wines.

Simply add dinner to your cart after selecting your tickets.

Kuro prawns served with edamame beans, artichokes and red radish salad with spring onion and sriracha sauce

Beef teriyaki with stir fried Chinese broccoli, ginger and honey dressing and toasted cashews
+ a glass of Rosé

Green tea lava cake served with white chocolate infused with earl grey
+ filtered coffee or tea

Specific dietary requirements can be accommodated, please send us an email after booking.

Published menu is subject to change without notice. Vegetarian and vegan options are available upon request. This menu is only available before performances of Madama Butterfly.

Opera is larger than life, and there are some themes and content in life, and in art, that can be challenging to engage with. We want to give you the information that you need to help decide whether a production is right for you and your family. If you'd like more information about what to expect or have specific questions about a production, email us at or call 02 9318 8200. For more information about going to the opera, check out our ultimate guide.

This production of Madama Butterfly includes mature themes including cultural exploitation, sex and suicide.

There's more information, but it contains spoilers.

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