Knocking Up a Geisha

A turn-of-the-century American makes a mistake.

Giacomo Puccini's masterpiece Madame Butterfly was first performed in 1904, which goes to show you that multiculturalism isn't as new-fangled as you might think. The opera, which will be performed Saturday night at the Colony Theater, is sung in Italian, set in Japan, and features an American leading man and music influenced by the German dramatic style. It's the saga of Lt. B.F. Pinkerton, an American sailor who boinks a 15-year-old geisha. She gets pregnant, and the two fall in love and wed. But Pinkerton is soon called back across the Pacific. Abandoned by her hubby and cast out of the community for miscegenation, Madame Butterfly becomes the center of a Greek-scale tragedy.

Madame Butterfly inspired Weezer's second album, Pinkerton, and the storyline was relocated to Vietnam for the Broadway musical Miss Saigon. Today Madame Butterfly is still one of the most oft-performed modern operas. Tickets cost $30.
Sat., Aug. 2, 2008
 
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