New York City Opera Project: Madama Butterfly

Selection 2 : Butterfly's aria "Un bel di" [Act II]

This selection will be performed by NYCO at the following session:

Monday Oct 7 : 12:00-12:45 (301 Philosophy Hall)


Cio-Cio-San ("Butterfly") has been waiting three years for her American sailor husband to return to her. She chastizes her maid, Suzuki, for her prayers on her behalf; Butterfly rejects the Japanese gods to whom she prays: the god of the Americans is more powerful, but she fears he may not know about them.

They discuss with apprehension their approaching poverty and starvation; but Butterfly is confident Pinkerton will return. She replies savagely when Suzuki remarks that she has never heard of a foreign husband returning to his Japanese wife. She repeats the promise to return that he made when he sailed away.


In this aria, to ecstatic music, Buttefly imagines her husband's return: the arrival of his ship, the firing of its gun, his coming up over the hill, her hiding from him to tease him a little before he greets her. She expresses her unshakeable faith in his return.

Note: When you have clicked the link below, click the icon for "Track 2" and listen through the end of that (4:33).

Performance of "Un bel di"

Butterfly: Mirella Freni
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, cond. by Herbert von Karajan (1974)
Library copy: CD2263