MECC hosts epic opera love story

Published: 17 Jul 2019

It's one of the most popular operas ever produced, and it’ll be on the MECC stage during the Mackay Festival of Arts.

Puccini’s Madama Butterfly is a beautiful, haunting love story that reaches across cultures, oceans and time.

It follows an American naval officer, Lieutenant Pinkerton, who is enchanted by a Japanese geisha bride and the geisha, Cio-Cio-San (Madama Butterfly), who falls hopelessly in love with him.

The show starts at 7.30pm on Saturday, July 27, in the MECC Auditorium.

Opera Australia’s touring coordinator Jane Williamson said it was the first time in 24 years of national touring that the company was coming to Mackay.

“Our version of Madama Butterfly is a classic love story set towards the end of World War II in Nagasaki,” Ms Williamson said.

“It’s regarded by many as the world’s most celebrated opera, and it’s not hard to see why – it’s a classic story of love and betrayal.

“The opera was written by Giacomo Puccini and was based on a play which premiered in 1900. The play itself was based on a short story written in 1898, so this story is one that has transcended centuries.”

Madama Butterfly was also the basis for the world-famous musical Miss Saigon.

Williamson said the opera was directed by one of Australia’s greatest theatrical minds, John Bell.

“Known for founding the Australian Shakespearian company, Bell Shakespeare, and his amazing Australian productions of Shakespeare’s works, it was a big win when we were able to convince John to step over to the opera world to direct this,” she said.

Cr Justin Englert said Madama Butterfly was performed by the amazing Opera Australia cast with the accompaniment of a chamber orchestra and a children’s chorus drawn from our region.

“The local youth choir, A-Choir’d Pitch, led by Jennifer Bee, will support the show and will provide a sensational showcase for local talent,” Cr Englert said. “Opera Australia is also bringing an 11-piece chamber orchestra, which is pretty special.”

Cr Englert said the MECC was offering first-class pre-show dining for this event.

“Our chefs are cooking up a special two-course menu that will complement a wonderful night out,” he said.

“There’s a baked ricotta with lemon, caper and olive salad, and a Chicken Agrodolce, which is a slow cooked chicken Maryland in a sweet saffron, thyme and wine broth with pine nuts, creamy mash and baby peas.”

To book tickets and pre-show dining, head to or call 4961 9777.

About the opera – history

When Butterfly premiered in 1904, it was a fiasco. Puccini described it as “a real lynching… an orgy of lunatics, drunk on hate”.

He reworked the opera, adding Pinkerton’s agonised “Addio, fiorito asil” aria to the music and making theatrical changes to give Butterfly both more dignity and a greater isolation, to add to the final tragedy.

Puccini rewrote it five times – and the fifth and final is the one usually performed around the world