When Puccini was inspired to write Madama Butterfly, he was at the peak of his fame, idolized as the composer of three great operatic successes, Manon Lescaut, La Bohème, and Tosca. His inspiration was a London production of David Belasco’s American play Madam Butterfly, in whose poignant love story Puccini saw the elements that invariably drew his interest as a composer: a strong theatrical situation involving a heroine in distress.
With his librettists Illica and Giacosa, Puccini began work on Madama Butterfly in 1902. The opera received its first production at La Scala in Milan in 1904, but it was not until the following year that its golden future would become apparent. A Covent Garden production featuring two of the greatest singers of the day in the leading roles — Emmy Destinn as Butterfly and Enrico Caruso as Pinkerton — brought London to its feet. When, a year later, it was produced with equal success at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Madama Butterfly began its long reign as one of the greatest favorites of the operatic repertoire.
This finely made full-score edition of Madama Butterfly is reprinted from the authoritative edition originally published by G. Ricordi, Milan. With it, students and lovers of opera can study intimately a masterpiece of the genre, widely admired for its melodic richness and glorious orchestral scoring.