Great Moments In Opera, “Un Bel Di Vedremo” From Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly”

Published: 07th May 2010
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An article about the aria of hope and expectations of a lovely Japanese girl waiting for the man she loves and is married to.

Puccini's opera "Madame Butterfly" tells the story of an American captain by the name of Pinkerton, whose travels take him to Japan where he accepts a teenage Japanese girl; going by the name of Madame Butterfly in an arranged marriage. This being very common in Japan at the time for such marriages to take place which Pinkerton accepts though does not really understand or care to know what such a union truly involves and what it might mean to the young girl in question.

The young girl for her part, who is referred to as Madame Butterfly accepts this marriage, as in fact she has little choice in the matter though she does take to the ways of love for captain Pinkerton; whose title and position have truly impressed her. She being one who had never known much if anything about the outside world until she meets the American captain Pinkerton, whose looks have also caused her to fall in love for the first time in her life.

It is after their initial meeting and with everything having been arranged that Madame Butterfly and captain Pinkerton get married in typical Japanese wedding which is followed by the romance that usually includes all the joy to be experienced by those who have just entered in to such a union. Madame Butter even becoming impregnated in this time which to her is like one of fantasy, as her every wish and desire is met by the man who has come to mean everything to her; who given her age and naivety is very impressionable. This time however though a happy one does not last very long as captain Pinkerton is called away on duty and is forced to leave Japan indefinitely. Madame Butterfly however is not worried since she is sure her husband will return to her and as such he waits and does not even take in to consideration that over three years have passed since he left.

It is however in this time that her son is born, whom she is forced to take care of not only without the help of her husband since he is away but also without his financial support as he does not even send money for the raising of their child. It is this set of circumstances which leads many to try to convince Madame Butterfly that perhaps she would be better of moving on with her life and forgetting about captain Pinkerton.

Madame Butterfly for her part is adamant in her believe that Pinkerton will return to her and will not hear talk to the contrary even from her faithful servant Suzuki, who remains by her side despite the fact she is no longer being paid for her services. It is at the start of act two that we see Suzuki praying to the gods for Madame Butterfly's tears to stop yet Madame Butterfly herself is secure that the love of her life, captain Pinkerton will return. This being the message she hopes to send, not only to her skeptical servant but to herself as she sings the aria "Un Bel Di Vedremo" in which she with all the hope still inside her; almost dreamingly describes how it will be when captain Pinkerton returns to her. Madame Butterfly painting images with her words of how Pinkerton's ship will return and he will see her in the distance and shout out "little girl" with love while she with joy welcomes him back home. Butterfly even declaring with a passion and excitement as if she were living the moment the phrase "tutto questo avera ti lo protto", which in English would be all this will happen I promise.

The aria "Un Bel Di Vedremo" to me is one that is lovely in not only its words but music which seems to elevate hopes and expectations to fever points that raise as Madame Butterfly lives her dream of Pinkerton's return. As if experiencing what she is almost certain will occur when captain Pinkerton returns yet for my part, I can not help thinking that perhaps she is also trying to convince herself that what she is saying will transform in to reality. This aria also being one to leave a powerful impression on most, as it captures what in my opinion is the true essence of a woman who wishes nothing other than for her husband to return; so that theirs might be again.

Many have interpreted this aria yet to my sentiments it is my favorite soprano, Angela Gheorhiu who performs it with all the force of both her personality and character; adding so much as to allow one to hear the pleas of that Japanese girl; so much in love yet perhaps deluded in to thinking that all would be as she thought.

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