Madama Butterfly Madame Butterfly
Giacomo Puccini John Luther Long
On Feb. 17, 1904, Giacomo Puccini's opera, Madama Butterfly, debuted at Milan's Teatro alla Scala., Madama Butterfly was based on an 1898 short story by writer John Luther Long (born Hanover, PA in 1861).

In Puccini's opera, the female lead, Cho-Cho-San, is a 15-year-old Japanese geisha who lives in late-19th-century Nagasaki. She enters into an ad hoc marriage of convenience with Lt. Pinkerton, a visiting American

naval officer. Pinkerton’s tour of duty ends in a few years and he returns to America. Cho-Cho-San, who is pregnant, continues to love and languish for him. When he eventually returns - with his American wife, Kate – he has lost interest in Cho-Cho-San. Kate wishes to adopt the boy, who is named Trouble. Cho-Cho-San gives up her son and then commits suicide.

The 1904 version of the opera Teatro alla Scala was less than a success and Puccini altered the opera. Revised by 1906, the work has become one of the most frequently performed works in the international operatic repertory.

John Luther Long (1861-1927), a Hanover native, became a Philadelphia lawyer. He never visited Japan but the idea for the short story came his sister Jennie Correll, a Lutheran missionary who'd been to Japan a year earlier.

Long’s Madame Butterfly was first published in Century Magazine and then republished in book form. David Belasco, an American playwright, adapted Long's story into a play that was performed in London. In Belasco’s Madame Butterfly, unlike Long's, Cho-Cho-San commits suicide when Pinkerton discards her. It was Belasco's London version of the story that Puccini used as the basis of his opera.

Illustrations from the 1903 Grosset and Dunlap edition of the text, Madame Butterfly, by C. Yarnall Abbott