Went to see Puccini's Madame Butterfly at the opera Saturday night. Amazing. I loved it, especially the second half where the music was epic. Really epic!
But first, do not get the story mixed up with the movie M. Butterfly, the movie with Jeremy Irons and John Lone. That is amazing as well, but not the same story at all and not amazing in the same ways. And today we are discussing the opera. (Go watch the movie though....)
Back in June of 2013 I wrote a blog on The Fictorians' site about Great Love. In it, I talk about why some great loves are cool, some kind of dumb, some seriously stupid. Mostly I talk about why they endure as legends of great love for good or bad. Mind you I'm not saying I dislike any of them, mostly I chose them because I love them (stupid or not). And as a disclaimer - this is all my personal opinion, so throw rant balls in my direction if any need thrown. :)
So, after seeing Madame Butterfly, I want to discuss my thoughts on the great love between Butterfly and the American sailor. Spoiler Alert! I will be talking about details and the end of the opera.
In the opera program, there was an article making a case for us not to hate the sailor right off. I think the author spoke of cultural differences, etc... between the Japanese and American cultures of the time as well as the differences between then and now. I don't think the case was strong. Or at least not strong enough for me.
So, here's what I think, bottom line, and then I'l talk about why. I think the sailor was a thoughtless, careless asshat and Butterfly was in denial and immature. Still loved the opera!
Okay. Why was the sailor a thoughtless, careless asshat? Because he didn't care about Butterfly, not really or he wouldn't have rented her along with the house on a 999 year lease that you can get out of at any time with no consequences. Yes, he married her, but it meant no more to him than the lease did. He always fully intended to go have a 'real' wedding later with an American girl. Yes, he continued to pay her rent after he abandoned her. Enough to appease his guilt I suppose, but not enough for her to actually live above poverty level on. Yes, he returns at the bitter end, but only in time to watch her die. And does anyone believe for a moment that he didn't still intend to take the boy with him? I don't.
Yes, he returned after running off because it was 'too hard to see her'. Coward. He needs to grow a pair. And seriously, as soon as he learns he has a son, he's just going to come take him away from his mother and raise the kid with his American wife? Seriously. Cultural differences of then, now, the future perfect be damned. That's a dick move. The boy was well loved and well tended. Had that not been the case, Okay. But it wasn't.
And don't get me started on the age thing since she's fifteen when they marry. (Yeah, I know... cultural difference... blah, blah, blah.) It's my blog and I can stand on my culturally different high horse if I like. :P
Maybe the sailor did love Butterfly while he was with her. But it was obviously a pretty skimpy love since he left so easily and lied to her so easily and lead her on so easily and then planned to take away the only thing she had left - so easily. And getting his American wife and the local consul to do his dirty work for him? And thinking that a wad a cash made up for taking her son away? Asshat is really too nice a term for what I think of him. But whatever.
Butterfly. She fifteen. And at the end, WHEN SHE KILLS HERSELF, eighteen. Immaturity doesn't begin to cover it. This is a grown ass man leading an innocent girl into thinking he loves and will return for her and they will live happily ever after. She's fifteen, dude! What teenage girl doesn't want to buy into that whole Great Love story? What teenage girl isn't going to completely pine for her first love? Hello... Romeo and Juliet. Butterfly saying and maintaining vehemently that he's going to return because she switched to his American religion and is his wife (American style) doesn't change the facts. Rose colored glasses mean anything?
Now, aside from Butterfly's obvious immaturity. She's also just being obtuse. Really obtuse. Susuki and the Consul try repeatedly to tell her he's not coming back. She should remarry or get on with her life. But no, she acts as though her faith in asshat will change who he is. She should have had an idea of his careless and callous ways when he was playing puppets with the statues of her ancestors before their wedding. But no, she willfully chooses to overlook all the facts and maintain her confidence in someone who has not given her any reason to. So, her bad.
Point is, both of these people is at fault in the tragedy they are calling their love. I don't buy it. His love is temporary and changeable. Hers is blind and that of a child. So, while this story endures as that of a Great Love (mostly on her part, I'm supposing), it falls under the same umbrella as many of the others I spoke of in my Fictorian blog post. But again, tragedy makes for a great story and self-immolation seems to be a means of proving how very deep your love is (I'm rolling my eyes, really).
Still loved the music and the opera. I just have to not think too hard about the story or characterization. And by the way... the little boy in the opera - TOO DAMN CUTE!
'Nuff said. Any thoughts, opinions, rants, musings? Go for it.