Opera Prize 2022

The Butterly Lovers

Andrea Granitzio Musica è Cultura ETS

The Butterly Lovers
Based on the Chinese tale of Liang Shanbo e Zhu Yingtai, Butterfly Lovers is a cross-cultural interdisciplinary project, an Italian-Chinese creative exchange combining music, architecture, design, and new technologies. “Ciò che in vita ha unito l’amore, neanche la morte potrà separare”


Since 2015, when Andrea Granitzio ran a three months visiting research project at the Sichuan Conservatory of Music – Chengdu, as a PhD student in composition at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (UK), he immersed himself in Chinese culture.

He also collaborated with several Chinese musicians, between China and the UK. In 2017 he met the soprano Bei Bei Wang, who became a key partner in this project. She introduced him to the famous Chinese legend of The Butterfly Lovers and invited him to think about writing an Opera about it. The first thought, after reading about Yingtai and Shanbo, was that if great Italian opera masters had heard that story, they would surely have composed an opera about it. From 2018 on, further research on the origin of the legend and its meaning in Chinese culture, led to the conceptual development of the work, therefore to the writing of the libretto, in Italian. He composed the music during the outbreak of the pandemic

Artistic vision key elements: Duality, Morphogenesis and Organic linearity

Duality, intended both as the result of characthers interior contrasts and opposing forces between external agents (tradition and innovation) is depicted by the Yin-Yang symbol and appears in various ways (costumes, props).

Morphogenesis is intended as the process of formation of the structure, the development and the evolution of an organism, according to an Organic linearity principle. The Opera is thus divided in three acts, mirroring the three stages of the life cycle of butterflies: bug, chrysalis, and adult butterfly. Each evolutionary phase implies a metamorphosis involving elements of both previous and next stage of life. Characters’ psychological evolution follow this natural development.

He involved in this project top-level creatives and challenge them to contribute on aspects never previously addressed in their career, drawing inspiration from the three abovementioned key principles, and to creatively and collaboratively translate them into this artistic work

Artistic Team

The artistic team was faced with the challenge of drawing inspiration from the two main principles of the work, duality and morphogenesis, and to creatively translate these into their work. The artists are highly respected celebrities in their respective fields: the architect Pierandrea Angius, for the design of the scenes; the stylist Antonio Marras for creation of the costumes; and the architect Flavio Manzoni who has designed the key objects, Yingtai’s hairpin and Jiumei’s necklace. These three artists, at the pinnacle of their careers, were stimulated to address further aspects of their art. In line with the cross-cultural spirit of this project, and crowning the Italian-Chinese partnership, Yingtai will be interpreted by the Chinese soprano Beibei Wang, Shanbo by the Italian tenor Vittorio Grigolo. Italian Conductor Giovanni Pasini completes the musical team. We aim to involve Chinese choreographers, body painters, virtual and immersive reality visual artists and other artists for the staging of the opera.

Co-producing Partners

Shenzhen Opera and Dance Theatre



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