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Covent Garden releases 'Madama Butterfly' without racial stereotypes
1 June, 20:47
Culture
Covent Garden releases 'Madama Butterfly' without racial stereotypes
Photo: Magazine Bulletin
The opera disappeared from the repertoire for a year: the theater management consulted with specialists in Japanese culture.

Giacomo Puccini's opera Madama Butterfly returns to the playbill of London's Covent Garden Theatre, the Daily Mail reports, citing The Times. According to the theater management, during the year they consulted with specialists in order to cleanse the performance of racial stereotypes: "Madama Butterfly" is deservedly considered a masterpiece, but all the prejudices of the colonial era were reflected in it.

The action of the opera takes place at the end of the 19th century in Japan: 15-year-old geisha Cio-Cio-San falls in love with an American naval officer Pinkerton and marries him. Shortly after the wedding, Pinkerton leaves for the United States, and then returns with another wife, already an American, and takes the son born in his absence from Cio-Cio-San. Cio-Cio-San commits seppuku in desperation.

Covent Garden was forced to withdraw the performance from the repertoire after critical remarks: some viewers accused the directors of stereotyping characters, hidden racism and portraying the superiority of Western man. The management consulted with experts to understand how traditional opera with all its features should be staged in the modern era. In the new version, theater director Oliver Mears said, changes were made to the make-up, costumes and plasticity of the actors.

The premiere of the updated "Madama Butterfly" will take place on June 14.