A butterfly's hopeless devotion

Classical Music/TheaterFriday, March 9

click to enlarge Julie Makerov and Mauricio O'Reilly star in Madama Butterfly - Deb Hesser
Deb Hesser
Julie Makerov and Mauricio O'Reilly star in Madama Butterfly

The Florida Orchestra teams up with Sarasota Opera to present Madama Butterfly, Giacomo Puccini's tragic tale about a geisha who marries and is then abandoned by an American naval officer. Set in Nagasaki at the turn of the 20th century, the three-act opera opens with U.S. Navy Lieutenant B. F. Pinkerton inspecting the house he's leased from a marriage broker, who has also procured him servants and a geisha wife, Cio-Cio-San, aka Madama Butterfly. While the marriage contract contains a monthly renewal option and is really only a way to fulfill the philandering, self-involved Pinkerton's fleshly desires, the fragile young Butterfly takes her vows so seriously that she renounces her ancestors' religion and embraces Christianity. Pinkerton is aware of her naiveté, but declares that he's "not content with life unless he makes his treasure the flowers on every shore," comparing Cio-Cio-San to a butterfly that he must pursue "even though I damage her wings." When Pinkerton leaves for America, Butterfly ignores the warnings she receives about his unfaithfulness and raises their child alone, awaiting his homecoming. Performed in Italian with English supertitles. March 9 and 11, 8 p.m. Fri., 2 p.m. Sun., Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S., St. Petersburg, $27-$102, 727-892-5767, mahaffeytheater.com.