Giacomo Puccini
The Humming Chorus from “Madama Butterfly”:

Arranged by Jim Tranquilla

five trombones

Vancouver, BC, , Canada
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 2016

Score and parts


Inspired by David Belasco's play of the same name about two lovers caught between a clash of cultures, Giacomo Puccini composed his famous opera Madama Butterfly in 1904. Originally set in two acts, the opera was not initially well received. In response, Puccini split the second act into two acts and introduced The Humming Chorus between them as transition material. Ever since, Madama Butterfly has enjoyed a great deal of success as a staple of the operatic repertoire.

Jim Tranquilla has beautifully scored The Humming Chorus for five trombones; four tenors and one bass. It features a staccato accompaniment over a sustained melody, and bass lines in simple counterpoint. The range demands for this quintet are somewhat modest—the first trombone part never ventures above c², and the bass trombone part never plays below BB-flat. All parts take turns playing both the melodic and accompaniment material, sparing the lead player from too much sustained high playing. Despite not being especially taxing, Tranquilla’s arrangement relies extensively on a texture full of exposed fifths and octaves that could pose intonation challenges for less experienced players. Parts are well edited for legibility and each fit perfectly on a single page. Jim Tranquilla’s arrangement of Puccini’s Humming Chorus is a wonderful addition to the trombone quintet literature, perfect for any recital or ceremony.


Reviewer: Greg Strohman
Review Published January 31, 2019