Welsh National Opera finds way through Madam Butterfly minefield

Welsh National Opera is scheduling a series of events around its performances of Puccini’s Madam Butterfly on the type of subjects that have been used to attack arts organisations under the banner of inclusivity, for their choice of work and for non-race matched casting. A new production has been commissioned.

It follows a similar approach by the new WNO general director Aidan Lang when the company that he then ran, Seattle Opera, faced similar issues when it too programmed the much-loved opera. As well as the usual generic themes of imperialism and race, these were also geared towards the city’s Asian American population, particularly Japanese American, under the label of Cultural Appropriation and Madam Butterfly.

The series of digital discussions are a free and being held on Zoom and must be booked in advance.

They include the now expected subjects of discussion on modern slavery and human trafficking; what works are performed and how they are presented; telling the story of Britain’s imperial history and contribution to the modern world, and the portrayal of women.

Mr Lang said, “Madam Butterfly raises so many issues, it would be impossible for one production to include them all. We are therefore hosting a series of panel discussions to accompany the production, highlighting the issues, and hopefully stimulating ongoing discussion.”

For more details: wno.org.uk

Main image: WNO’s often revived Joachim Herz’s production of Madam Butterfly that effectively and beautifully captured the essence of Puccini’s story of love and betrayal, imperialism and exploitation.

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