Madame Butterfly Croatian National Theatre Zagreb

Madama Butterfly Giacomo Puccini – Moira Risen

I attended a performance of Giacomo Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly at the Croatian National Theatre on Saturday. It was a fantastic production. The opera was sold-out, with an audience different than other people I’ve met in Zagreb – mostly mature 40s to 60s. During the break, everyone seemed solemn, and there was little chit chat – maybe it was the melancholy opera.

Zagreb National Theatre Interior –

This link is to a synopsis of the sad and dramatic three-act opera. The action takes place in Nagasaki Bay, Japan, around 1900. Puccini wrote Madama Butterfly in 1903, and it’s considered “one of his most moving operas”. It “tells the tragic story of Cio-Cio-San (butterfly in Japanese), a 15-year-old geisha, and US Navy lieutenant BF Pinkerton, with whom she falls in love”.


“A dramatic and poignant story about the collision of two worlds in which unconditional love wasn’t enough for happiness and a peaceful life, stirred up the audience and critics from the very beginning, and continues to enchant opera lovers to this day.” HNK – Madame Butterfly 


Act III Madame Butterfly’s Tragic Fate

The opera was accompanied by the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Pier Giorgio Morandi. The programs were in Croatian only. Lead singers include:


Giacomo Puccini Italian Composer – Hrvatska Encyclopedia


“In Madame Butterfly, Puccini paints a devastatingly accurate and sensitive portrait of a young woman. More than a hundred years after it was created, this drama of love and waiting remains one of the most popular operas in the repertory and still elicits tears from the audience.” opera-online 


Pier Giorgio Morandi Conductor Zagreb Philharmonic – GM Art & Music

Zagreb National Theater

Croatian National Theatre (Hrvatsko narodno kazalište u Zagrebu) is an elegant neo-baroque masterpiece built in 1895. The magnificent theatre features drama, opera, and ballet performances. It’s near my apartment, so I’ve booked several productions and am looking forward to them all!

The Well of Life 1905 Ivan Meštrović – Flickr

At the entrance to the National Theatre, there’s a wall fountain, The Well of Life (Zdenac života), designed by Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović. The sculpture “depicts people in various phases of life that crouch and twist their bodies around a well which symbolizes life, youth, and the source of eternal beauty”.


  1. suemtravels

    Thanks Gwen, I’ll check it out, as I can tell there will be some “bad weather” days during December in Zagreb, and a good time for reading. Madame Butterfly always makes me cry, and there were plenty of tears in the audience…

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