Is there a more universally beloved opera than Madama Butterfly
? Well, maybe the same composer's La Boheme
-- but it's pretty close. The ageless, tragic story of the geisha who is so determined to be a "real American wife" that she abandons her own culture (and is abandoned by her family) and the loutish sailor who uses and drops her, has resurfaced in our day as Miss Saigon
, but the original is by far superior in every respect. Puccini was a fine orchestrator, and here you can see how he achieved the uplifting effect of "Un bel di vedremo," Butterfly's song of hope and love. But remember that you'll need your own English translation; Dover scores are in the original language.
One of the greatest favorites of the Italian operatic repertoire, whose productions at London's Covent Garden in 1905 (featuring Enrico Caruso, among other luminaries of the day) and New York's Metropolitan Opera the following year first brought it fame. Reprinted complete and unabridge