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View Diary: Can Racists Get Anymore Ridiculous? (252 comments)

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  •  It's at least three levels removed from reality (3+ / 0-)

    The story started as a novel by Pierre Loti, Madame Chrysantheme, in which a French naval officer (loosely based on Loti himself) takes a geisha as a temporary wife for his convenience - she understands that it is temporary and basically a business arrangement, and treats it as such.

    Then John Luther Long asked himself, "What if she took him seriously"?, and wrote a short story called "Madame Butterfly", which contains most of the elements we are familiar with but an enigmatic ending (Butterfly attempts suicide but fails, and she, Suzuki and the child just...disappear). Long had never been to Japan, but his sister had, as a missionary's wife.

    David Belasco (who had never been to Japan either) turned Long's story into a one-act play with an ending close to the one we know.

    Then Puccini got hold of it.... At one point he thought about making Pinkerton British, renaming him "Francis Beverly Pinkerton" (he was Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton in Long's story and Belasco's play, and in the final version of Puccini's opera). But although he went with his original intention, not all of the libretto was re-revised and an occasional "F.B. Pinkerton" slips through. (Renata Tebaldi, who made quite a career of Butterfly, always insisted on singing the "F.B."s because that was how it stood in the libretto and she wasn't going to change it.)

    But by that time it had almost as little to do with the "real" Japan as Gilbert & Sullivan's The Mikado, which is basically an overextended series of nursery jokes set to glorious music.

    If it's
    Not your body,
    Then it's
    Not your choice
    And it's
    None of your damn business!

    by TheOtherMaven on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 03:09:48 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

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