Welcome to the website of Raffaele Paglione (Composer) and Anna Hurkmans (Writer-Lyricist)


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"Don't cry Butterfly" will be performed at the international Midtown Festival in New York in July.

Produced by Audrey Duncan, Toni Blue and Michael Knobbe

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Quick Info:

A passionate story about one of the most interesting mysteries in the history. A tormented love affair between the great composer Giacomo Puccini and Mata Hari, the famous oriental dancer who was charged with espionage.

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Puccini's Unwritten Opera

Text and lyrics of the play by ANNA HURKMANS


The musical deals with the interlaced lives of two artists: the composer Giacomo Puccini and the oriental dancer/ courtesan/ spy Mata Hari. It starts from the fact that Puccini had been one of Mata Hari’s lovers.

The show opens with an anatomy lesson at the University ”La Sorbonne” in Paris, attended by Puccini who has been invited by his friend and physician Dr. Brizard. Puccini recognizes the corpse of Mata Hari and is very shocked. He remembers when he first met her during a performance of her oriental dances (SONG: THE LEGEND OF MATA HARI).

Later he has a brief love affair with her after her unsuccessful performance in the Scala of Milan; he consoles her telling that even his “Butterfly” was booed in the same theatre .(DUET: DON’T CRY, BUTTERFLY)

Many years later, after Mata Hari’s execution as a spy, Puccini conceives the idea of writing an opera about her. He is in a difficult moment of his life: the relationship with his wife Elvira has become worse and worse ; his publisher Ricordi pushes him to finish “Turandot” and finally he has serious troubles with his health. The memory of Mata Hari becomes a real obsession with him; in her he discovers aspects of all his opera heroines (Butterfly, Tosca, and Liù) and while working on his project he falls in love with the image he is creating. 

But also Mata Hari had lived an impossible love story that had caused her death. For a long time she had been exploiting rich men offering her body. But after falling in love -for the first time? - with a young Russian officer she needed money that could enable her to live with him for the rest of her life.(SONG: IN LOVE AGAIN) Therefore she accepted to spy for the French, not understanding that she was going to be involved in a situation she couldn’t control. But she was sure that her innocence would be proved during the trial and that her lover would give decisive evidence in her favour. But he let her down, forgetting all his promises. And Mata Hari is sentenced to death (SONG: THE PUBLIC PROSECUTOR BOUCHARDON’S SPEECH

While occupying himself with Mata Hari’s life, Puccini is not able to keep his distance from the events he wants to tell, he feels very involved and sometimes wants to interfere, trying for instance to convince Mata Hari not to accept the offer of becoming a spy. But he must realize he can’t change what already happened.

In the meantime others try to make him abandon his project: above all Elvira, who becomes jealous of her dead rival will even cause the death of Doria, a young servant Puccini loved like a daughter. The publisher Ricordi summons him not to waste time on other projects and to complete the final duet of Turandot immediately. Finally Doctor Martini diagnoses a throat cancer at an advanced stage.

Having read the last words spoken by Mata Hari before dying (SONG: ILLUSION) Puccini can’t do anything else but burn the few sheets he had written and reveal his own disappointment (SONG: I CAN’T, I CAN’T WRITE IT). He understands that just like Mata Hari he is sentenced to death. His opera about her will never be written.

Go to the "Gallery" section to see more video/audio samples from