A record 2.5 million Italians watch La Scala’s Butterfly

A record 2.5 million Italians watch La Scala’s Butterfly


norman lebrecht

December 09, 2016

The overnights are in and there are claims of a world record.

It appears that 2.5 million Italians watched the live relay of the original version of Madam Butterfly from La Scala.

There was also a big audience in Germany, on ARTE.

UPDATE: A earlier version of this story misstated the number of viewers. Apologies.


  • giampi says:

    2.6 millions not 12.5…….

    • Frankster says:

      The 12,5 number is, according to press reports, apparently the total number of times someone in Italy watched the show so those kids clicking through channels would be counted, I’m guessing. The 2.6 million, the average viewer number at any time, is still a remarkable figure and, with a market share of 13.48%, a significant percentage of the total audience for a cultural event.

  • Don Fatale says:

    Yes, 12.5m seems unbelievable.

    I’m watching it now, thanks to…. (whatever). Very good. A great idea to revive this version.

    Such a shame the BBC can’t support British culture in the same way.

  • Marg says:

    Eve at 2.6m it’s impressive when we constantly hear how opera is dying and losing its audiences.

    • David Osborne says:

      Yes, great to see.

    • herrera says:

      Opera is dying; Puccini is alive. There’s a difference.

      As long as opera companies put on, every season, a Boheme, a Butterfly, a Turandot (everyone’s a sucker for Nessun dorma), the public will be sated.

      In that sense, Riccardo Chailly’s ongoing project to conduct neglected or original versions of all of Puccini’s operas (like this revisiting of the disastrous Milan premier that Puccini abandonned), is just another commercial effort to keep offering Puccini to the Milanese.

  • Dominic Stafford says:

    Haven’t Welsh National Opera been doing the original version for years?

  • Julian Smith says:

    The WNO version was devised by the director, Joachim Herz, and uses some 1st version material (such as the exit of Pinkerton after the trio, and the confrontation between Kate and Butterfly). La Scala presented the complete original version, which I reconstructed for Ricordi .

  • herrera says:

    Let’s put this 2.5 million number in perspective:

    “The gala season premier was broadcast live on RAI state TV’s main channel for the first time in decades as part of Pereira’s effort to make La Scala more accessible.” (Associated Press)

    So for decades, La Scala, funded by tax payer money, was accessible only to a few.

    The audience was always there; they just couldn’t get in.

    If opera is dying, it’s the elite choking it off from the public (even as the public is financing it).

  • giulia tonelli says:

    Also, what does that picture have to do with the La Scala performance? It’s another soprano!! I mean 2 blunders in an article 3 sentences long, it must be a record.

  • Melisande says:

    Also in the Netherlands people have access to Arte TV and I assume that goes for other European countries as well. Wonderful and very sensitive orchestral playing under Chailly. The setting couldn’t be more Japanese, while the singing was of a good standard.
    A satisfactory opera evening inside your own home!

  • Katherine Syer says:

    Live relay perhaps, vs. liver relay..don’t you think she gives up enough already?

  • Bill Levy says:

    The feed was not available in the US so who knows the true number of potential viewers would have been.