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Madame Butterfly (Italian Madama Butterfly) is a three-act opera by Giacomo Puccini. Based on both the short story Madame Chrysanthème and the play Madame Butterfly, it tells the story of Cio-Cio San (nicknamed Butterfly) in 1904, Nagasaki, Japan. Cio-Cio San, a soprano and beautiful 15 year old girl, is engaged to be married to a U.S. Naval Officer named Pinkerton. He admires her for her innocence and beauty, like a young delicate butterfly, and the fact that he can just as easily pluck her wings; as such, he only wants to temporarily marry her until he finds an American bride, despite the warning of the USA consul Sharpless about how terrible the idea as a whole is. They are happily planned to be married, but Butterfly's uncle disapproves of the fact that she renounced her religion for her husband. Her family disowns her, but Pinkerton comforts her.
In the next act, 3 years have passed and Pinkerton is off and gone. Butterfly is alone, and Suzuki shows up to her home with a letter from Pinkerton. Butterfly thinks the letter says he will return, and when Sharpless visits her he is not sure what to say to her; He doesn't know if Pinkerton will actually return or not. Butterfly had a child back at home without him, and calls him Sorrow, until her husband comes home, saying then when he returns the child will be called Joy.
Pinkerton comes home, only to have Butterfly find out that these past three years, he's been with a woman named Kate. Sadly Butterfly accepts this, gives up her child, and chooses what she finds honorable with what she has left.
This opera has had countless adaptations, one with a page on this wiki being Miss Saigon and Mademoiselle Butterfly. It also inspired the play M. Butterfly, and received quite a few references in Weezer's album Pinkerton.
Tropes used by the opera:
- Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Pinkerton, no.
- Adaptational Heroism: Pinkerton's wife Kate was VERY insensitive to Butterfly in the original story, but is less callous in the opera.
- Believe it or not, Pinkerton was even more insensitive in the original.
- Armor-Piercing Question: Sharpless straight-up asks Butterfly in the second act what will she do if Pinkerton doesn't return. She near shuts down.
- Asian Baby Mama: The main character, odd for the trope.
- Asian Gal with White Guy: The Trope Codifier for the "exotic, submissive Asian woman falls in love with Western man" plot. Rather ironically, it was intended to criticize such hook-ups.
- But Not Too Foreign: The half-American child is cast as blonde, usually. As the lyrics request:
- Converting for Love: From Buiddhism, to Christianity.
- Downer Ending: And h o w.
- Eagle Land, flavor 1: Butterfly's concept of America as a land of freedom, and Christianity as the One True Faith. The composer mocks it by introducing Pinkerton with a "Star Spangled Banner" theme.
- Famous-Named Foreigner: The American Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton (remember the opera was written in Italy).
- Geisha: Cio-Cio San worked as one until she married.
- The Ingenue: Poor Butterfly.
- Interrupted Suicide: Suzuki sends out little Sorrow to the room where his mother's about to kill herself, intending to have her see the boy and then think twice about it. It worked in the original, but not in the play and the opera.
- Leitmotif: Several. There's one for Butterfly's father's knife as well as Pikerton's already-mentioned "Star Spangled Banner", just to mention two.
- Only Sane Man: Sharpless and Suzuki. Pity no one listens to them.
- Parental Abandonment: Butterfly's child has a Missing Mom and a dad who's got his own wife.
- The Reveal: How Sorrow is introducted in Act II. Sharpless' reaction is the opera version of an "Oh Crap!"
- Seppuku: Butterfly's father's knife is used for this.
- Spurned Into Suicide: Butterfly kills herself over being abandoned, and the musical score that plays in the scene implies that she also does it as her revenge against the man who caused her disgrace.
- The Soprano: Cio-Cio San
- Untranslated Title: In Italy, or any non-English speaking country. The Italian word for butterfly is "farfalla", yet the English word is used for the character's name.
- Yamato Nadeshiko: Butterfly seems to be this at first sight, but it's not as clear-cut. She works as a Geisha and can play the YN part, but at times she sows a somewhat sassier disposition than one would expect from a YN (like in her interactions with Yamadori, her potential suitor), and the "devotion to her loved ones and especially her love interest" deals blow up BADLY on her face, showing that she's NOT as mentally strong as an actual Yamato Nadeshiko should be.
- Is it his (Pinkerton's)?
- Who ever saw blue eyes on a Japanese boy? And the lip? And the clear golden curls?