On Madama Butterfly: Those interested in this opera might find the recording on Vox (with Maria Spacagna as Butterfly) especially interesting. Where most recordings of the work take 2 CDs, this one is 4 CDs for the price of 2, because it's Puccini's original (longer) version of the opera as first performed, plus appendices of all the new sections he wrote for several later revisions (the little tenor aria in Act III was a later addition, for instance). Plus track listings so you can program any desired version to play, plus references to the Belasco story and play, all carefully cross-referenced and commented on. It's just a feast of information about this opera. And its annotator (Michael Kaye, who's also given us the critical edition of The Tales of Hoffmann) announced on opera-l not long ago that once current stock runs out on this recording, a re-pressed version will probably not include the full booklet. So buy now if you're at all interested.

On fireflies: One of the nicest places in the US to see opera is at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, where every June they do 4 operas in repertory (usually 1 standard, 1 novelty, 2 in between). The theater itself, on a college campus, is oddly shaped and not all that ideal on the inside, but on the outside it's heaven. Surrounded by a roomy lawn for promenading and picnicking, it's set up with a big marquee (sideless tent) where one may dine beforehand: bringing your own hamper a la Glyndebourne, or pre-ordering catered box dinners as I did. And after the show you're encouraged to linger there over a drink, and mingle with the artists when they emerge. And every night, there were fireflies all around. Too perfect. (The one summer I went, we a had a new work I've forgotten, Don Giovanni, Massenet's Cinderella, and Billy Budd in its 4-act version.)