Stage on Screen is The Roxy’s ongoing series of the world’s greatest contemporary theatrical performances, from the Metropolitan Opera to London’s National Theatre to the Bolshoi Ballet and beyond, projected on the big screen. Leading sopranos Hui He and Ana María Martínez share the heartbreaking title role of the doomed geisha, with tenors Piero Pretti and Andrea Carè as the American naval officer who abandons her. Brazilian baritone Paulo Szot adds a new role to his Met repertory as Sharpless, a role that he has previously sung at Marseilles Opera. Pier Giorgio Morandi is on the podium for Anthony Minghella’s sweeping production, a perennial audience favorite.
The title character of Madama Butterfly—a young Japanese geisha who clings to the belief that her arrangement with a visiting American naval officer is a loving and permanent marriage—is one of the defining roles in opera. The story triggers ideas about cultural and sexual imperialism for people far removed from the opera house, and film, Broadway, and popular culture in general have riffed endlessly on it. The lyric beauty of Puccini’s score, especially the music for the thoroughly believable lead role, has made Butterfly timeless.