Music: Brilliant Butterfly

Puccini's Madame Butterfly has always suffered from a kind of triple cultural vision. Based on an American story (by John Luther Long) and play (by David Belasco), it tells what an Italian thinks an American would feel if he went ranching with a Japanese girl. Most of the time, this confusion is compounded by the staging. In the words of an old Far East hand, Cornelius V. Starr, Butterfly productions usually present "a kind of tourist Yokohama, or half New York Chinatown."

Starr, a wealthy insurance executive, decided to remedy the situation, offered to...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!