“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.
|David Henry Hwang, Chinese-American playwright
|Giacomo Puccini, Italian composer
|On Broadway in 1988
|At La Scala in 1904
|Is it a Musical?
|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.
|China and France
|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?
|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.