Opera Philadelphia

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Butterfly Conversations

Philadelphia Ethical Society
1906 South Rittenhouse Square
Philadelphia, PA 19103

From February through May, Opera Philadelphia will host a series that aims to foster open and inclusive conversations, providing an opportunity to create an experience that not only contextualizes Madame Butterfly but also contributes to a broader dialogue on the role of opera in contemporary society.

As we delve into the insightful series, it's crucial to acknowledge that each lecturer, panelist, moderator, or facilitator will be sharing their perspectives based on personal experiences and expertise. Remembering that no community is a monolith; within every community, there exists a diverse array of perspectives, we welcome this spectrum of ideas to help foster a deeper understanding of Madame Butterfly and the operatic artform.


In collaboration with select members of Opera Philadelphia's Community Advisory Council. Learn more about the council here.

Philadelphia Ethical Society

Sat, Feb 10 2:00 p.m.
Sat, Mar 2 2:00 p.m.
Sat, Apr 20 6:00 p.m.
Sat, May 4 2:00 p.m.

Approximately one hour

Saturday, February 10, 2024| 2:00—3:00 pm | Unpacking Orientalism and Exoticism in Butterfly

The opera Madame Butterfly has long been considered one of Puccini's greatest works, but while the opera explores universal themes of love and betrayal, it can also perpetuate negative anti-Asian stereotypes rooted in Orientalism and exoticism. This panel discussion will explore the historical context of Orientalism in Western art forms bridging a variety of perspectives on the topic including those of scholars, activists, and practicing artists. 

Moderator: Rob Buscher, CAC Member

Panel: Melody Wong and Jacqui Sadashige


Saturday, March 2, 2024 |2:00—3:00 pm | Inside the Music

In Madame Butterfly, Puccini's composition skillfully captures the emotions of the characters, along with the overarching themes of love, betrayal, and tragedy. Scholar-in-Residence Dr. Lily Kass will provide attendees with a deep dive into the story and characters of the opera, while also offering a live "listening map" experience, highlighting opera arias sung by various artists.

Lecturer: Dr. Lily Kass, Scholar in Residence

Musicians: Brenna Markey (Soprano), Anne Marie Stanley (Mezzo Soprano),  Grant Loehnig (Accompanist)



Saturday, April 20, 2024 |6:00-7:00 pm | Conversation with Creators and Artists

Modern productions and interpretations of Madame Butterfly often aim to challenge or subvert the Orientalist and exoticist elements. Directors strive to humanize characters, avoid reinforcing stereotypes, and delve into the complexities of cross-cultural relationships while still maintaining Puccini’s masterwork. In this roundtable conversation, hear from the artists and creative team about Opera Philadelphia's new production of Madame Butterfly.  

Moderator: Dr. Derrell Acon, Vice President of People Operations and Inclusion 

Panel: Yuki Izumihara (Production Designer), Karen Chia-ling Ho (Cio-Cio San), Kristen Choi (Suzuki), and Ethan Heard, (Director)


Saturday, May 4, 2024|2:00—3:00 pm | Is Re-imagining possible? A Community Conversation

As opera companies strive to maintain relevance in the modern world, many consider reimagining historical operas to better resonate with contemporary audiences. In this community conversation, we invite panelists and audience members to explore what is gained and what it costs to re-imagine works such as Madame Butterfly.

Facilitator: Daniel Park, Philadelphia Asian Performing Artists representative on the CAC

Panel: Melissa Dunphy (CAC member), A.Z. Espinoza, James Ijames 


Part of Reflection & Re-Vision

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