"Madama Butterfly", conceived during the heart of japonisme, occupies a special place in East-West cultural fusion. It is one of the very few Western operas with an Asian protagonist and to include Asian melodies. But it's hard to deny that the opera is an exercise in orientalism: Asia seen through Western eyes. It is less clear, however, whether this is the ethnocentrism of which the opera is sometimes accused or a dramatic device deliberately deployed by the composer.
In collaboration with Opera Hong Kong, this talk explores the history and context of the opera as well the mystery of Cio-Cio San: is she a naive, delicate creature "off a Japanese screen", as the American naval officer Pinkerton describes her, deceived and broken like the butterflies she worries Westerners stick with a pin? Or might she instead be only one in the story with any spine, a young woman who knowingly breaks with tradition fully aware of the possible consequences?
"Madama Butterfly" was unusually set in what was, for the first audiences, the "present day": in addition to the beautiful music and heart-wrenching story, "Madama Butterfly" is also a commentary on imperialism and East-West relations.
Opera Hong Kong and Solvene National Theatre Maribor will present this magnificent production of "Madama Butterfly" at the Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre on October 6 – 10, 2021. The pre-performance talk, which is presented by local opera commentator Peter Gordon and Italian composer and musicologist Marco Iannelli, will impart you with all the needed information and details to enjoy the opera.
One lucky attendee will get a chance to walk away with a pair of tickets (worth HK$1,440 in total) to watch "Madama Butterfly" on October 7, 2021.
Ticket includes ASHK ONE - YEAR Individual Membership
The views and opinions expressed are those of the speakers and participants and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, do not reflect the opinion, position or official policy of Asia Society Hong Kong, its members, or its committees. Asia Society Hong Kong does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for the content of the information presented.