"Un bel di, vedremo" Text and Translation

Puccini's Unforgettable Soprano Aria from Madama Butterfly

A scene from Puccini's opera 'Madame Butterfly' at the Metropolitan Opera, New York. (1983)
A scene from Puccini's opera 'Madame Butterfly' at the Metropolitan Opera, New York. (1983).

Ernst Haas / Getty Images

"Un bel di, vedremo" is an unforgettable soprano aria sung by Madama Butterfly in the second act of Giacomo Puccini's tragic opera, ​Madama Butterfly. The libretto was written by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa and loosely based on John Luther Long's short story, "Madame Butterfly," as well as Pierre Loti's novel Madame Chrysanthème.

Puccini was inspired to write his opera after attending a London performance of the one-act play Madame Butterfly: A Tragedy of Japan, which was based on John Luther Long's short story, in 1900. Puccini finished composing the opera in 1904, but after its dismal premiere, he substantially rewrote most of the opera a little more than four months later. However, despite receiving audience approval for the newly rewritten score, he went on to draft three more versions of the opera. By 1907, he had finished his fifth and final version of the opera, which has now become the standard edition for most performances of  Madama Butterfly. 

The Context of "Un Del Di, Vedremo"

In the first act of Madama Butterfly, Lieutenant Pinkerton is a soldier from the United States stationed in Japan, who rents a house from a real estate agent/marriage broker. Along with the house, three servants and a geisha that is to be Pinkerton's wife are supplied. Pinkerton tells his friend that he lives from moment to moment and that he ultimately dreams of marrying a U.S. woman instead.

Despite his future plans, Pinkerton signs the contract and agrees to marry Cio-Cio San, the geisha called Madama Butterfly. Cio-Cio San falls deeply in love with Pinkerton, going so far as to denounce her own Japanese faith, converting to Christianity for Pinkerton. Little does she know that Pinkerton shares similar feelings. Shortly after their marriage ceremony, Pinkerton is called out of Japan.

The second act begins three years later during which time Madama Butterfly prayed for his return. Her servant Suzuki pities her and repeatedly tells her that Pinkerton is never going to come back, but Madama Butterfly believes differently. She sings "Un bel di, vedremo" as she envisions that day Pinkerton's ship arrives into port, and how she'll see it through the window in their home that sits high atop a hill.

Italian Text

Un bel dì, vedremo
levarsi un fil di fumo
sull'estremo confin del mare.
E poi la nave appare.
Poi la nave bianca
entra nel porto,
romba il suo saluto.

Vedi? È venuto!
Io non gli scendo incontro. Io no.
Mi metto là sul ciglio del colle e aspetto,
e aspetto gran tempo
e non mi pesa,
la lunga attesa.

E uscito dalla folla cittadina,
un uomo, un picciol punto
s'avvia per la collina.
Chi sarà? chi sarà?
E come sarà giunto
che dirà? che dirà?
Chiamerà Butterfly dalla lontana.
Io senza dar risposta
me ne starò nascosta
un po' per celia
e un po' per non morire
al primo incontro;
ed egli alquanto in pena
chiamerà, chiamerà:
"Piccina mogliettina,
olezzo di verbena"
i nomi che mi dava al suo venire.
(a Suzuki)
Tutto questo avverrà,
te lo prometto.
Tienti la tua paura,
io con sicura fede l'aspetto.

English Translation of "Un bel di, vedremo"

One good day, we will see
Arising a strand of smoke
Over the far horizon on the sea
And then the ship appears
And then the ship is white
It enters into the port, it rumbles its salute.

Do you see it? He is coming!
I don't go down to meet him, not I.
I stay upon the edge of the hill
And I wait a long time
but I do not grow weary of the long wait.

And leaving from the crowded city,
A man, a little speck
Climbing the hill.
Who is it? Who is it?
And as he arrives
What will he say? What will he say?
He will call Butterfly from the distance
I without answering
Stay hidden
A little to tease him,
A little as to not die.
At the first meeting,
And then a little troubled
He will call, he will call
"Little one, dear wife
Blossom of orange"
The names he called me at his last coming.
(To Suzuki)
All this will happen,
I promise you this
Hold back your fears -
I with secure faith wait for him.

Recommended Listening

The following wonderful performances are available on YouTube.