Puccini's Madama Butterfly
Giacomo Puccini's operas are notable for the very high percentage that remain among the most popular operas today. Madama Butterfly is one perennial favorite, although it was a failure when first produced in 1904. (Puccini quickly revised the score, modifying it from two acts to three, and it became a triumphant success.) Madama Butterfly—her name, Cio-Cio San, is taken from the Japanese word for "butterfly"—is a young Japanese girl who marries an American naval officer; she marries for love, he marries merely for convenience while stationed in Nagasaki. Unlike in some other popular operas, the nature of the story makes it difficult to alter the traditional setting and costuming, depicted here on early-twentieth-century sheet music as well as in a photograph from the 1930s.