For the best browsing experience, please download a modern browser. Internet Explorer 8 is outdated and may result in errors.

Seattle Opera.

Community Conversations

Cultural Appropriation & Madame Butterfly

Most opera companies present the opera Madame Butterfly because of Puccini’s beautiful melodies. But not everyone can see themselves in this story. As a historically white and European art form, opera has a history of using cultural appropriation to tell stories, and placing more emphasis on the voice in casting. Since Seattle Opera's last Madame Butterfly in 2012, our community has raised a larger discussion about works in which the composer/librettist team is writing about a culture other than their own (Madame Butterfly and The Mikado are examples).We are seizing this opportunity to encourage discussion and deepen Seattle Opera's understanding about this important subject matter.

In addition to the community events listed below, the lobby areas of McCaw Hall will be used for a large-scale exhibit prior to each performance of Madame Butterfly. As Seattle Opera presents the heartbreakingly beautiful music and story of Madame Butterfly, we are also providing a perspective on Puccini’s masterpiece that we have not offered before. Seattle Opera is learning more about the impact of stories like Butterfly on Japanese Americans, and more broadly, Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander descent. Individuals from these communities have faced a history of racial discrimination, and, as marginalized people, they have not always had the same power to be heard as white or European storytellers.  The lobby display will explore these topics in both opera and the broader entertainment landscape.

Seattle Opera has also published a series of blog interviews that open up dialogue and elevate Asian voices in our immediate Seattle community and in the wider artistic community. For further information about cultural appropriation in Madame Butterfly and opera, read our Spotlight Guide.

Events

Asian Arts Leaders Respond to Madame Butterfly

SIFF Uptown, 511 Queen Anne Ave. N, Seattle

Learn More

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Prior to its performance of Madame Butterfly this August, Seattle Opera will hold a panel discussion featuring Asian Pacific Islander (API) artists, community leaders, and activists that will be moderated by Frank Abe, an award-winning writer/producer and founder of the Asian American Journalists Association in Seattle.

Download the transcript from this event

Learn More

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Reversing the Madame Butterfly Effect: Asian American Women Reinvent Themselves Onstage

Cornish Playhouse Studio Theatre

Learn More

Friday, July 28, 2017

This event will include three short plays by Asian American women playwrights as well as conversations on reclaiming Asian female representation in art and entertainment. The event is curated by celebrated actor and arts leader Kathy Hsieh and presented in partnership with SIS Productions.

Learn More

Friday, July 28, 2017

An American Dream

Learn more

September 7–17, 2017

A month after Madame Butterfly closes, we will present An American Dream, a story depicting the incarceration of a Japanese American family in the '40s, to provide an essential second perspective for Madame Butterfly audiences.

Learn more

September 7–17, 2017