Opera Philadelphia Presents "Butterfly Conversations" with Ethical Society

Monday, January, 22, 2024.

Pictured Above: The first production of Madame Butterfly, performed by American Soprano, Geraldine Farrar.  Photo Credit: Soured. 



Philadelphia, PA – From February through May, Opera Philadelphia will host a series that aims to foster open and inclusive conversations, providing an opportunity to create an experience that not only contextualizes Madame Butterfly but also contributes to a broader dialogue on the role of opera in contemporary society. The lectures will take place at the Philadelphia Ethical Society, 1906 Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, PA.

Saturday, February 10, 2024| 2:00—3:00 pm | Unpacking Orientalism and Exoticism in Butterfly

The opera Madame Butterfly has long been considered one of Puccini’s greatest works, but while the opera explores universal themes of love and betrayal, it also perpetuates negative anti-Asian stereotypes rooted in Orientalism and exoticism. This panel discussion will explore the historical context of Orientalism in Western art forms bridging a variety of perspectives on the topic including those of scholars, activists, and practicing artists. Attendees will also gain a better understanding of contemporary Asian American community perspectives on Madame Butterfly, offering deeper insight into the opera itself. 


Moderator: Rob Buscher, CAC Member

Saturday, March 2, 2024 |2:00—3:00 pm | Inside the Music

In Madame Butterfly, Puccini’s composition skillfully captures the emotions of the characters, along with the overarching themes of love, betrayal, and tragedy. Scholar-in-Residence Dr. Lily Kass will provide attendees with a deep dive into the story and characters of the opera, while also offering a live “listening map” experience, highlighting opera arias sung by various artists.


Lecturer: Dr. Lily Kass, Scholar in Residence

Saturday, April 20, 2024 |6:00-7:00 pm | Conversation with Creators and Artists

Modern productions and interpretations of Madame Butterfly often aim to challenge or subvert the Orientalist and exoticist elements. Directors strive to humanize characters, avoid reinforcing stereotypes, and delve into the complexities of cross-cultural relationships while still maintaining Puccini’s masterwork. In this roundtable conversation, hear from the artists and creative team about Opera Philadelphia’s imagined production of Madame Butterfly.


Moderator: TBD

Saturday, May 4, 2024|2:00—3:00 pm | Is Re-imagining possible? A Community Conversation

As opera companies strive to maintain relevance in the modern world, many consider reimagining operas to resonate with contemporary audiences. In this community conversation, we invite panelists and audience members to explore whether it is possible and viability of re-imagine works such as Madame Butterfly.


Facilitator: Daniel Park, CAC Member

Pictured Above: The first production of Madame Butterfly, as Madama Butterfly.  The production returned to the stage at the Metropolitan Opera in 1907, after revisions.  Photo Credit: Soured. 

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