Welcome to the Suzuki Madam ButterflyNews
The School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London has issued a press release claiming credit for having ‘reimagined (Madam Butterfly) for 21st Century audiences following a consultation by the Royal Opera House.’
The cleaned-up Butterfly opens tonight.
Soas claims: Dr Satona Suzuki, a lecturer in Japanese and Modern Japanese History at SOAS, was drafted in to help make the production fit for 2022 audiences after outdated narratives from the late nineteenth century, around imperialism, orientalism and sexism, and misrepresentations of Japan, threatened the opening with a possible backlash from modern audiences. (Oh, really?)
The year-long consultation by the Royal Opera House involved staff from the ROH, academics, practitioners, performers and Asian representatives to help remove any references that could offend. The collaboration inspired discrete but important changes to several aspects of the existing staging, including makeup, wigs and costume, and movement.
Commenting on her involvement, Dr Suzuki, said: ‘I really admire the director’s decision. As a historian, I genuinely believe that when facing difficult and uncomfortable issues we reflect on our past from different perspectives through meaningful discussions. It makes more sense than simply ignoring or cancelling such a masterpiece that is still so important for modern audiences.’