New York City Opera Project: Madama Butterfly

Selection 1: Pinkerton aria: "Dovunque al mondo" [Act I]

This selection will be performed by NYCO at the following two sessions:

Monday Oct 7 : 1:10-1:55 (301 Philosophy Hall)

Tuesday Oct 8 : 1:10-1:55 (310 Philosophy Hall)


At the opening of the opera, the marriage-broker, Goro, is showing Pinkerton the house he is in process of buying. Pinkerton is amazed at its light-weight materials and moveable walls.

Thereafter, the American Consul, Sharpless, arrives for the preliminaries to the wedding that is about to take place between Pinkerton and Cio-Cio-San ("Butterfly"). He tries to suggest to Pinkerton that he is entering into marriage too lightly, and that Butterfly is taking it in complete earnest.

Pinkerton is impervious to such arguments, especially when so diplomatically put as those of Sharpless. In particular, he boasts that he has taken the house on a 999-year lease, cancellable at a month's notice.


The aria is preceded by the first phrase of the Stars and Stripes, in the orchestra.

In Dovunque al mondo, Pinkerton boasts of the adventurous lifestyle of Americans, taking advantage of all that they encounter. (Note his casual aside offering whiskey; and Sharpless's feeble attempts to counter his bravura.)

It becomes clear that Pinkerton regards his marriage contract in the same light as his house contract: 999 years, but breakable with a month's notice.

Again, the Stars and Stripes rings out, Pinkerton sings a toast ("America for ever"), feebly echoed by Sharpless.

Following this, Pinkerton sings of his infatuation with Butterfly ("Amore o grillo"). Note the description of Butterfly as "like a figure on a painted screen ... from her glittering background ... she frees herself, like a butterfy ..." The librettists skilfully set up the moment soon after this aria when Butterfly appears from the back of the stage, accompanied by her relatives, then comes forward to greet him. It also sets up her renunciation of her Japanese religion and assuming of the Christian faith.

Important: after clicking the link below, click the icon "Track 3", play to the end (2:58), and then click the icon "Track 4" and continue to the end of that (2:34 -- i.e. 5:32 in all).

Performance of "Dovunque al mondo"

Pinkerton: Luciano Pavarotti
Sharpless: Robert Kerns
Goro: Michel Senechal
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, cond. by Herbert von Karajan (1974)
Library copy: CD2263