On 20 November 1907 the Teatro Real in Madrid presented the first performance in Spain of Giacomo Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly. One hundred years later and coinciding with a new production of Puccini’s work at the same opera house, the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza is presenting a small exhibition that locates that Spanish premiere in the context of the japaniste vogue which gripped much of the western world in the last third of the 19th century, including Madrid.

The exhibition brings together around 45 works of different formats and techniques, which will offer visitors the opportunity to learn more about the collecting of Japanese art in Madrid at this relatively early date, the new popularity of Japanese culture through fashion, theatre and music of the time, and the influence of Japan on painters and illustrators active in the Spanish capital at the turn of the century.

A notable section in the exhibition is devoted to the premiere of Puccini’s opera at the Teatro Real in Madrid in 1907, conducted by Luis Paris. On display for the first time will be the photographs of geishas used for the design of the sets and props, as well as the original costume designs by Joaquín Xaudaró.

With the support of:


Selection of photos

Utagawaka Uniyoshi. Portrait of the actor Ichikawa VII in the role of Benkei fighting against Yoshitsune
Kitagawa Utamaro. Refined Elegance of the Five‒Needled Pine
Pedro Sáenz y Sáenz, Chrysanthemums, ca. 1900.
Joaquín Xaudaró. Untitled
Eulogio Varela. Chrysanthemums, Blanco y Negro, no. 707
Joaquín Xaudaró. Susuki, act I. Costume design for ‘Madama Butterfly’
Joaquín Xaudaró. Prince Yamadori. Costume design for ‘Madama Butterfly’,