Madame Butterfly And Turandot Analysis

1999 Words 8 Pages
An analysis of orientalism in ‘Madame Butterfly’ and ‘Turandot

Due to the integration of various forms of artistic expression and multicultural customs, opera has been loved by the majority of the people since it was published. Therefore, the same as the other art works and masterpieces, opera also would be influenced by politics and economics, even by the thoughts or minds from most people. Madame Butterfly (Puccini, 1904) and Turandot (Puccini, 1926) were two examples to illustrate how a style of thought did the effects. The story of Madame Butterfly happened at the beginning of the 20th century in Nagasaki Japan, the general Pinkerton, hold the game attitude, married only 15 years old Japanese geisha Cho-Cho-San (Madame Butterfly) wife
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In the operas, Cho-Cho-San and Turandot were typical oriental female stereotypes. The characteristic of Madame Butterfly was a delicate and fragile Japanese Woman who was willing to sacrifice for love. And Turandot’s characteristic was a brutal unruly princess. However, the real characters of two protagonists are quite different. According to the original novel Madame Chrysanthemum written by Pierre Loti, “Madame Butterfly” (Cio-Cio-San) did not fall in love with “Pinkerton”, but treated him as a “customer” and served Pinkerton during the contract period. On the contrary, it was Loti, the originate character of Pinkerton, could not forget the time with “Madame Butterfly.” (Jan van Rij, 2001, P25-35) Moving to analyze Turandot, her characteristic was violent and cold-blooded. Thereby, in ancient China, a princess no matter how she was doted by emperor, she did not have the scope of power to choose her husband by herself. Her marriage was decided by the emperor, which means princess’s marriage would be a product of political rights so as to consolidate the imperial power, which cannot be a means to revenge. In other words, the princess would marry with someone who would rain benefits for emperor such as the son of ‘prime minister’. (Si Ma Qian, 2011, P215) Also, it was quite interesting to find that Turandot was almost the opposite side of Cho-Cho-San. Nevertheless, either culture or position of China and Japan were similar. Why they were showed in dissimilar character has become a question. Virtually, the distinct was made by Puccini. The opera Turandot written by him was based on Arabian fairy tales---Thousand and one night. (Kii Ming Lo, 1996, P27) Namely, Puccini conflated China and Arab so Turandot was not Chinese princess but Persian princess. As for the reason why such conflations and fantasy appeared

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