Madama Butterfly


Madama Butterfly

Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House

New production

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

Constrained, cocooned, caught in a moment of desire, Butterfly is incandescent. In her exotic embrace, Pinkerton finds paradise, then carelessly condemns his bride to purgatory.

Graeme Murphy’s arresting new production of Madama Butterfly is a contemporary look at Puccini’s alluring heroine.

Fragments of film flutter across the stage, creating a dynamic backdrop for Murphy’s vision of Butterfly. He draws on his roots in choreography to capture the grace and gravity of a tale that begins in rapturous love and ends in the cruellest heartbreak.

Puccini’s sublime music imbues this ageless story with impossible beauty, from the irrepressible, famous aria ‘One fine day’ to the intense finale.

Two exceptional casts perform throughout the season. Karah Son returns to Sydney, sharing the role of Cio-Cio-San with Mariana Hong.

Enjoy dinner before the opera at Sydney Opera House

Dinner at Overture Dining in the Northern Foyer of the Joan Sutherland
         Theatre at Sydney Opera HouseAllow us to make your dinner reservation for you: 6pm at Overture Dining in the Northern Foyer of the Joan Sutherland Theatre. You'll be served a themed three-course menu for just $69, including a glass of Bandini Prosecco on arrival. View the menu.

Simply add dinner to your cart after selecting tickets. If you already have tickets, simply sign in to your account and go to 'upcoming performances' to add a dinner reservation.

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Conductor Massimo Zanetti (until 6 Jul)
  Nicholas Milton (11–25, 29, 31 Jul; 1, 2, 3 Aug)
  Brian Castles-Onion (27 Jul; 6, 7, 10 Aug)
Director Graeme Murphy
Creative Associate

Janet Vernon

Production Designer Michael Scott-Mitchell
Costume Designer Jennifer Irwin
Lighting Designer Damien Cooper
Digital Content Sean Nieuwenhuis
Assistant Director Shane Placentino
Cio-Cio-San Karah Son (28 Jun; 3, 5, 11, 13, 27, 29, 31 Jul; 2, 6 Aug)
  Mariana Hong (29 Jun; 1, 4, 6, 12, 16, 19, 22, 25 Jul; 1, 3, 7, 10 Aug)
Pinkerton Andeka Gorrotxategi (28 Jun; 3, 5, 11, 13, 25, 27, 29, 31 Jul; 2, 6 Aug)
  Diego Torre (29 Jun; 1, 4, 6, 12, 16, 19, 22, Jul; 1, 3, 7, 10 Aug)
Suzuki Sian Sharp (28 Jun; 3, 5, 11, 13, 22, 25, 27, 29, 31 Jul; 2, 6 Aug)
  Agnes Sarkis (29 Jun; 1, 4, 6, 12, 16, 19 Jul; 1, 3, 7, 10 Aug)
Sharpless Michael Honeyman (until 13 Jul; from 29 Jul)
  José Carbó (16–27 Jul)
Goro Virgilio Marino
The Bonze Gennadi Dubinsky
Yamadori Christopher Hillier (except 3 Aug)
  Sitiveni Talei (3 Aug)
Kate Pinkerton Jane Ede
Commissioner Alexander Hargreaves
Registrar Gregory Brown

Opera Australia Orchestra

Opera Australia Chorus

Please note: this production contains adult themes and may not be suitable for children. If you’d like to talk more about what’s on stage, please call our box office on 02 9318 8200.

Please note: this production may potentially trigger seizures for people with photosensitive epilepsy. 

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


Production Partner

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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.

Dinner at Overture Dining in the Northern Foyer of the Joan Sutherland Theatre

Allow us to make your dinner reservation for you: 5:30pm at Overture Dining in the Northern Foyer of the Joan Sutherland Theatre.

You'll be served a themed three-course menu for just $69, including a glass of Viticoltori Ponte Prosecco on arrival. Simply add dinner to your cart after selecting your tickets.

Sample menu

On arrival

A glass of Viticoltori Ponte Prosecco 

Warm bread roll, pepe saya butter (gluten free available)


Escabeche of Fremantle octopus, charred corn and chilli salsa GF, DF


Pumpkin and coconut soup with coriander, lemongrass and lime leaf V, GF, DF

Main Course

Roasted chicken breast with truffle polenta, cauliflower and hazelnut crumble GF, NF


Large purple eggplant with miso glaze, humus and fried chickpeas V, GF, DF

Salad of baby cos, radicchio, orange and citrus vinaigrette ($7, available on request)


Poached turmeric spiced pear, vanilla rice pudding and coconut crumble V, GF

​Published menu is subject to change without notice. Specific dietary requirements can be accommodated on request with 48 hours notice; please send us an email after booking.

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