This tragic tale revolves around the young Japanese geisha, Cio-Cio San. She is to be married to Benjamin Pinkerton, an American Officer on assignment in Nagasaki. Cio-Cio San is young, naive, and totally in love with Pinkerton; who gives her the pet name 'Butterfly'. She believes she has married the man of her dreams, and is committed to being with him forever, despite the warnings from her family that he is likely to leave her and return to America. Her family are right to be worried, as Pinkerton openly expresses his intention to marry an American when he returns home, and even leaves a clause in his wedding vows with Cio-Cio San.
For three years, Butterfly waits for Pinkerton to return, and cares for their son. Finally, she sees his ship approaching the harbor, but it is not the happy reunion Butterfly expected. Pinkerton has returned with his new American wife, intending to take his son back to America. Butterfly agrees to give up her child, but rather than live with the shame, she decides to kill herself and protect her honor.
Madama Butterfly guide sections