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The Teatro Massimo in Palermo pays homage to Puccini with Madama Butterfly, Wellber directs, starring Maria Agresta
The production designed by Nicola Berloffa returns to the stage, with the Chilean-American tenor Jonathan Tetelman in the role of Pinkerton

Teatro Massimo Foundation of Palermo Presents

“ Season 2023 – 24 |. Operas and ballets”
It's a tribute to Giacomo Puccini 100 years after his death, the recovery of Madama Butterfly on stage at theater Maximus of Palermo from 16 to 24 February 2024: the musical director on the podium Omer Meir Wellber, leading an important cast featuring protagonists Maria Agresta and the American tenor Jonathan Tetelman. The installation signed by Nicola Berloffa it is the one created a few years ago in co-production with the Macerata Opera Festival.

Japanese tragedy in two acts with a libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, Madama Butterfly It debuted at La Scala in Milan on 17 February 1904 with a resounding fiasco, but soon achieved well-deserved success, becoming one of Puccini's most beloved operas and one of the most performed titles in the world.

The staging imagined by Nicola Berloffa, a director with a musical and cinematographic background, transports the work from the original setting of the early 1900s to the post-war period in a Japan subjected to American occupation, bringing out the gap and clash between very distant cultures. The scenography of Fabio Cherstich they place the action in a Japanese theater-cinema frequented by American marines who compete for the most beautiful geishas; the costumes are from Valeria Donata Bettella, the lights of Valerius Tiberi, the videos of Paul Dry.

On stage a prestigious cast starting from the protagonists, the soprano Maria Agresta in the role of Cio-cio-san, the young geisha in love with the American navy lieutenant FB Pinkerton, played by the American tenor Jonathan Tetelman (in the alternative cast the roles will be played respectively by Barno Ismatullaeva is Ivan Thin); the faithful Suzuki is played by Silvia Beltrami and from Palermo Irene Savignano; while the role of Consul Sharpless involves two emerging young baritones: Simon Mechliński is Lodovico Filippo Ravizza; Massimiliano Chiarolla it will be Goro, Nicolò Ceriani, Uncle Bonzo; Yamadori is played by Italo Speaks, Kate from Emanuela Rude.

to drive theOrchestra and Choir of the Teatro Massimo, the musical director Omer Meir Wellber and for the last performance, Keren Kagarlitsky. Choir Master is Savior Puncture.

It is “the most heartfelt and most evocative work I have conceived!” said Puccini of Madama Butterfly, which revolves around the drama of the young Japanese geisha Cio-Cio-San (Butterfly) who waits a long time and in vain for the return of Pinkerton, the American Navy officer who had married her "for fun" and abandoned. Alone and with a child to raise, Butterfly continues to delude herself that she is waiting for her husband who will return only after three years but with his real American wife. Overwhelmed by grief, Butterfly delivers her son to the couple as requested and takes her own life.

The story is taken from the semi-autobiographical story Madame Chrysanthème by Pierre Loti, an officer of the French navy who in turn had inspired a novel by John Luther Long and a play by David Belasco that Puccini saw in London, remaining so fascinated by the story that he wanted to make an opera out of it, entrusting the writing of the libretto to Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa.

“We tried to bring this Japanese tragedy of 1904 closer to the public – says the director Nicola Berloffa – moving it temporally after the end of the Second World War to bring out the clash between cultures; the West that swallows up the East and destroys its identity”. In the first act the action is set in a traditional Japanese theater, in the second act that place becomes a cinema in which the geishas no longer act but are goods on display for sale available to American soldiers and officers while American society and aesthetics they are represented by sequences of scenes from vintage American films such as “Desperately Yours” with Bette Davis or fragments of aquatic musicals with Esther Williams which are projected on a large cinema screen.


(Photocredit, ©Rosellina Garbo – Teatro Massimo)
The Teatro Massimo in Palermo pays homage to Puccini with Madama Butterfly, Wellber directs, starring Maria Agresta


Director Omer Meir Wellber /
Keren Kagarlitsky (24)

Direction Nicola Berloffa
Scenes Fabio Cherstich
Costumes Valeria Donata Bettella
Lights Valerio Tiberi

Main characters and performers
Cio-cio-san Maria Agresta (16, 18, 21, 23) /
Barno Ismatullaeva (17, 20, 22, 24)
Pinkerton Jonathan Tetelman (16, 18, 21, 23) /
Ivan Magrì (17, 20, 22, 24)
Suzuki Silvia Beltrami (16, 18, 21, 23) /
Irene Savignano (17, 20, 22, 24)
Sharpless Simon Mechliński (16, 18, 21, 23) /
Lodovico Filippo Ravizza (17, 20, 22, 24)
Goro Massimiliano Chiarolla
Uncle Bonzo Nicolò Ceriani
Yamadori Italo Speaks
Kate Emanuela Sgarlata

Choir and Orchestra of the Teatro Massimo of Palermo
Choir Master Salvatore Punturo

Installation of the Teatro Massimo in Palermo
in co-production with the Macerata Opera Festival


Madama Butterfly
Japanese tragedy in two acts by Giacomo Puccini

Libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica


16 February 2024 at 8pm 'before'
performances on 17, 21, 22, 23 and 24 February at 6.30 pm
February 18th at 5.30pm
and February 20th at 8.00 pm

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