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

Madame Butterfly is also the title of an opera by Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924).

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 of the play 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, Ralph Lawson and Hilary Jones. Design by Murray Weyer, Music by John Oakley-Smith.

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

Performance history of the opera in South Africa

1943: Presented in Cape Town at the Alhambra Theatre and in Johannesburg jointly by African Consolidated Theatres, the University of Cape Town, the National Opera Company, the Cape Town Municipal Orchestra under William Pickerill and the Johannesburg Philharmonic Society under John Connell (March/April).

1948: Produced/directed by Alessandro Rota in the Cape Town City Hall, conducted by Geoffrey Miller, with the Italian soprano, Rina Bellandi, in the role of Cho Cho San (20, 27 March, 3 April 1948).

1957: Presented by The National Opera Association of South Africa in Johannesburg and Durban, with Nellie du Toit as Cio-Cio-San, produced by Alessandro Rota and conducted by Jeremiah Schulman (Johannesburg) and Frits Schuurman (Durban).

1960: Presented in English by the Pretoria Opera Group, starring Nellie du Toit as Cio-Cio-San and Gé Korsten as Pinkerton, produced by Hermien Dommisse, conducted by Anton Hartman.

1962: Presented by the EOAN Group

1962: Presented by The National Opera Association of South Africa

1964: Presented by NAPAC Opera.

1967: Presented in English by PACT Opera, with Nellie du Toit as Cio-Cio-San and Gé Korsten as Pinkerton, produced by Victor Melleney, conducted by Anton Hartman.

1968: Presented in English by PACT Opera, with Nellie du Toit as Cio-Cio-San and Gé Korsten as Pinkerton, produced by Victor Melleney, conducted by Leo Quayle.

1969: Presented by PACT Opera; Concert version presented by PACOFS Opera.

1971: Presented by CAPAB Opera.

1972: Presented by CAPAB Opera, with Nellie du Toit as Cio-Cio-San, produced by Gregorio Fiasconaro, conducted by David Tidboald.

1973: Presented by NAPAC Opera, with Nellie du Toit as Cio-Cio-San and Gé Korsten as Pinkerton, produced by Angelo Gobbato, conducted by Bryan Balkwill; presented by PACOFS Opera.

1976: Presented by PACOFS Opera

1976: Presented by NAPAC Opera, with Nellie du Toit as Cio-Cio-San, produced by Enayat Rezai, conducted by John Pryce-Jones.

1978: Presented by PACT Opera; presented by PACOFS Opera; presented by CAPAB Opera.

1987: Presented by CAPAB Opera (2–18 May)

1993: Presented by CAPAB Opera (15 May – 4 June)

1996: Presented by CAPAB Opera (27 April – 12 May)

1999: Presented by Cape Town Opera (1–15 May)

2002: Presented by Cape Town Opera (26 January – 2 February)

2002: Presented by Black Tie Ensemble in the Drama at the State Theatre (April 2002). Conductor - Christopher Dowdeswell; Director - Neels Hansen; Décor - Lindy Grindlay; Additional costumes - Lindy Grindlay, Bronwen Lovegrove & Dalene Holt; Original costume design 1978 - Neels Hansen; Lighting - Declan Randall; Repetitor - Susan Steenkamp-Swanepoel; ; Chorus master - Mathilda Hornsveld; Stage manager - Christa Snyman; Assistant to the director- Jonathan Boinamo; Japanese coach - Ronelle Brand; Orchestra - Chamber Orchestra of South Africa; Concert master - Denise Sutton. With the following cast: Luzuko Mahlaba/Dewald von Solms (BF Pinkerton), Given Mabena (Goro), Kathy Henderson (Suzuki), Linda Zitha (Sharpless), Zodumo Mboniswa (Cio-Cio San), Jonathan Boinamo (The Imperial Commissioner), Timothy Bull (The Official Registrar), Vuyani Mlinde (The Bonze), Jonathan Boinamo (Prince Yamadori), Antoinette Olivier (Kate Pinkerton), Fortune Modise (Trouble).

2002: Presented by Black Tie Ensemble in the Sand du Plessis Theatre (30 October - 3 November 2002). Conductor - Christopher Dowdeswell; Director - Neels Hansen; Décor - Lindy Grindlay; Additional costumes - Lindy Grindlay, Bronwen Lovegrove & Dalene Holt; Original costume design 1978 - Neels Hansen; Lighting - Declan Randall; Repetitor - Susan Steenkamp-Swanepoel and Paul Ferreira; Chorus master - Huibrie Verster; Stage manager - Amanda van Zyl; Assistant to the director- Jonathan Boinamo; Japanese coach - Ronelle Brand; Orchestra - The Free State Symphony Orchestra; Concert master - Richard Reid. With the following cast: Dewald von Solms (BF Pinkerton), Given Mabena (Goro), Tina Farr (Suzuki), Linda Zitha (Sharpless), Zodumo Mboniswa (Cio-Cio San), Jonathan Boinamo (The Imperial Commissioner), Louwrens Strydom (The Official Registrar), Vuyani Mlinde (The Bonze), Jonathan Boinamo (Prince Yamadori), Antoinette Olivier (Kate Pinkerton), Timothy Campbell/Jenade Ridgard (Trouble).

2009: Presented by Cape Town Opera (23 May – 5 June)

2013: Presented by Cape Town Opera (19–27 September)

Sources

Ruphin Coudyzer. 2023. Annotated list of his photographs of Market Theatre productions. (Provided by Coudyzer)

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

Barrow, Brian & Williams-Short, Yvonne 1988.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madame_Butterfly_(play)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Belasco

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giacomo_Puccini

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

Wayne Muller. 2018. A reception history of opera in Cape Town: Tracing the development of a distinctly South African operatic aesthetic (1985–2015). Unpublished PhD thesis.

Sjoerd Alkema. 2012. "Conductors of the Cape Town Municipal Orchestra, 1914-1965: a historical perspective". University of Cape Town. Unpublished PhD thesis.

Alexandra Xenia Sabina Mossolow. 2003. The career of South African soprano Nellie du Toit, born 1929. Unpublished Masters thesis. University of Stellenbosch.

Antoinette Johanna Olivier. 2014. 'Exploring contributions to opera by The Black Tie Ensemble: a historical case study'. Mini-dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree Master‟s in Music at the Potchefstroom Campus of the North-West University.

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