“There seems to be some confusion,” writes Melodie Bahan, director of communications at the Guthrie, about the play M. Butterfly “and its relationship to the opera Madame Butterfly.” In an e-mail to the press corps, Bahan offers a “handy chart” to help differentiate between the two. If journalists are confused, you may be as well. For your amusement and edification, here’s the chart, taken verbatim from Bahan’s e-mail.
|Title||M. Butterfly||Madame Butterfly|
|Author||David Henry Hwang, Chinese-American playwright||Giacomo Puccini, Italian composer|
|First Premiered||On Broadway in 1988||At La Scala in 1904|
|Is it a Musical?||No||No, it’s an opera.|
|Does it contain music?||Puccini’s opera is referenced in the play and some of the music from it is heard||Yes, it’s an opera.|
|Setting||China and France||Japan|
|Main Characters||French diplomat Rene Gallimard and Chinese opera performer Song Liling||U.S. Navy Lieutenant B.F. Pinkerton and Japanese geisha Cio-Cio-San|
|What Does the Title Refer To?||M. is the French abbreviation for Monsieur||Cio-Cio-San is also known as Butterfly|
|Inspiration for the Story||Inspired by the strange but true story of a French diplomat accused in 1986 of giving secrets to his Chinese lover. Although they were together for nearly 20 years, the diplomat claimed he did not know his lover was a spy. Or a man.||Based on the short story “Madame Butterfly” (1898) and the novel Madame Chrysanthème (1887)|
|Is there nudity?||Yes.||No.|
|Where can I see it?||At the Guthrie from April 17 through June 6||Not at the Guthrie. Ever.|
Photo: David Henry Hwang. Photo by Craig Schwartz, courtesy Guthrie Theatre.