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Meowdame Butterfly

Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly is a tale of love, tragedy, and cultural imperialism.

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Our story takes place on a hillside in Nagasaki at the turn of the twentieth century...

Our story takes place on a hillside in Nagasaki at the turn of the twentieth century...

One day while stationed in Nagasaki, Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton, a self-styled Casanova, is checking out his new digs—this is the house where he will be staying during his time in Japan.

One day while stationed in Nagasaki, Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton, a self-styled Casanova, is checking out his new digs—this is the house where he will be staying during his time in Japan.

The man who sold Pinkerton the house has also arranged for him to marry a beautiful young maiden named Cio-Cio-San, or "Madame Butterfly."

The man who sold Pinkerton the house has also arranged for him to marry a beautiful young maiden named Cio-Cio-San, or "Madame Butterfly."

As the opera begins, Pinkerton is hanging out with his pal, the Consul Sharpless, who urges him not to take advantage of the innocent Butterfly.

As the opera begins, Pinkerton is hanging out with his pal, the Consul Sharpless, who urges him not to take advantage of the innocent Butterfly.

But Pinkerton ignores him and toasts the day when he will wed a real American wife.

But Pinkerton ignores him and toasts the day when he will wed a real American wife.

Soon, Cio-Cio-San and her relatives arrive for the wedding.

Soon, Cio-Cio-San and her relatives arrive for the wedding.

The tender-hearted Cio-Cio-San is blissfully happy—she does not understand that Pinkerton considers their marriage a temporary affair.

The tender-hearted Cio-Cio-San is blissfully happy—she does not understand that Pinkerton considers their marriage a temporary affair.

Her relatives, including her widowed mother, her drunken uncle, and some sisters and cousins, are all happy to have a strong, wealthy man in the family once again...

Her relatives, including her widowed mother, her drunken uncle, and some sisters and cousins, are all happy to have a strong, wealthy man in the family once again...

... You see, Butterfly's father had killed himself, on orders from the Mikado.
Hiroshi T / Via Pinterest

... You see, Butterfly's father had killed himself, on orders from the Mikado.

But on her wedding day, Cio-Cio-San can think only of how she is the happiest girl in Japan.

But on her wedding day, Cio-Cio-San can think only of how she is the happiest girl in Japan.

In front of Sharpless and the young woman's large family, Pinkerton and Butterfly are married. But the certificate is hardly dry when all of a sudden—

In front of Sharpless and the young woman's large family, Pinkerton and Butterfly are married. But the certificate is hardly dry when all of a sudden—

—Cio-Cio-San's uncle, The Bonze (a Buddhist priest) storms in! He's furious at his niece for converting to Christianity for her new husband.

—Cio-Cio-San's uncle, The Bonze (a Buddhist priest) storms in! He's furious at his niece for converting to Christianity for her new husband.

Cio-Cio-San is ostracized from the family...and everyone abandons her!

Cio-Cio-San is ostracized from the family...and everyone abandons her!

But seemingly, not all is lost as Pinkerton dries her tears on their wedding night.

But seemingly, not all is lost as Pinkerton dries her tears on their wedding night.

Left alone with her new husband, Butterfly is comforted by the possibility of happiness in her new life. She and Pinkerton express their love.

Left alone with her new husband, Butterfly is comforted by the possibility of happiness in her new life. She and Pinkerton express their love.

Three years pass in Nagasaki, during which Cio-Cio-San’s child by Pinkerton grows to be a toddler. Pinkerton departed not long after the wedding.
Tambako The Jaguar

Three years pass in Nagasaki, during which Cio-Cio-San’s child by Pinkerton grows to be a toddler. Pinkerton departed not long after the wedding.

Pinkerton had promised Butterfly he'd return when the flowers bloomed and the robins built their nests, and Butterfly wonders if springtime is somehow on a different schedule in America. Meanwhile, she and Suzuki are almost destitute.

Pinkerton had promised Butterfly he'd return when the flowers bloomed and the robins built their nests, and Butterfly wonders if springtime is somehow on a different schedule in America. Meanwhile, she and Suzuki are almost destitute.

Tough as times may be, Suzuki is deeply devoted to supporting Cio-Cio-San...

Tough as times may be, Suzuki is deeply devoted to supporting Cio-Cio-San...

And somehow, Cio-Cio-San still has faith that her husband will return for her. She still believes her marriage is legitimate...

And somehow, Cio-Cio-San still has faith that her husband will return for her. She still believes her marriage is legitimate...

...despite the advice of Suzuki and Sharpless (not to mention, passionate declarations of love from Goro’s latest client, Prince Yamadori).

...despite the advice of Suzuki and Sharpless (not to mention, passionate declarations of love from Goro’s latest client, Prince Yamadori).

Finally, after long months and years of waiting, Pinkerton’s ship can be seen entering Nagasaki harbor!

Finally, after long months and years of waiting, Pinkerton’s ship can be seen entering Nagasaki harbor!

Does "Madame Pinkerton" dare believe her eyes?!

Does "Madame Pinkerton" dare believe her eyes?!

With Suzuki's help, Butterfly strews her house with flowers, then stays up all night long waiting for him.

With Suzuki's help, Butterfly strews her house with flowers, then stays up all night long waiting for him.

But the next morning, poor Butterfly is about to receive a devastating blow: Pinkerton has returned to Japan with his American wife, Kate.

But the next morning, poor Butterfly is about to receive a devastating blow: Pinkerton has returned to Japan with his American wife, Kate.

They have come for the child and intend to raise him in America.

They have come for the child and intend to raise him in America.

It is determined by all that it would be "for the best" if the child is stripped from his mother's arms and sent to America to live with the Pinkertons. A heartbroken Butterfly bids farewell to the child she calls "Sorrow."

It is determined by all that it would be "for the best" if the child is stripped from his mother's arms and sent to America to live with the Pinkertons. A heartbroken Butterfly bids farewell to the child she calls "Sorrow."

Finally, she takes her most precious family heirloom—the dagger the Mikado had sent to her father...

Finally, she takes her most precious family heirloom—the dagger the Mikado had sent to her father...

... And bids farewell to the cruel world she once loved.

... And bids farewell to the cruel world she once loved.

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