Madame Butterfly

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Madame Butterfly is a one-act play by David Belasco (1853–1931)[1]

Also known under its full, original title as Madame Butterfly: A Tragedy of Japan

Not to be confused with the play M. Butterfly by David Henry Hwang.

The original text

Considered Belasco's most famous work, the play is an adaption of the 1898 short story Madame Butterfly by John Luther Long (1861–1927), in turn based on the recollections of his sister, Jennie Correll, who had been to Japan with her husband. Madame Butterfly was first performed March 5, 1900, at the Herald Square Theatre in New York City, produced by David Belasco.

The text was published in Six Plays by Little, Brown 1928, and as a single play text by Samuel French, New York in 1935.

Translations and adaptations

Belasco's play, along with the original story, were - more famously perhaps - used as sources for the opera Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924)[2].

Puccini's opera in its turn again inspired the 1988 play M. Butterfly by David Henry Hwang.

Performance history in South Africa

1982: Performed as Madame Butterfly in April by the Market Theatre Company in the Market Theatre Restaurant, directed by Richard Haines, with Vanessa Cooke, Beverley Melnick, David Eppel, Robert Whitehead, Charlotte Ewins. Design by Murray Weyer, Music by John Oakley-Smith.

1982: Performed in the Baxter Studio by the Market Theatre Company.


Pat Schwartz 1988. The Best of Company: The Story of Johannesburg's Market Theatre. Johannesburg: Ad Donker.

Barrow, Brian & Williams-Short, Yvonne 1988.

Faximile version of the full text of Madame Butterfly, A Tragedy of Japan] (from "Six Plays" Little, Brown 1928)[3]

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