The University’s Asia Pacific Peace Studies Institute partnered with the Japan Policy Research Institute to present a preview of Madame Butterfly, the opera by esteemed composer Giacomo Puccini. The HNU event featured panelists A.J. Glueckert, Crystal Soo-Jeong Kim, and Curt Pajer from the San Francisco Opera and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
“We like to cultivate empathy and openness to understanding cultural forums, especially those that cross many borders, and that’s an important foundation for peace,” Executive Director of the Asia Pacific Peace Studies Institute Chiho Sawada said.
Patrick Lloyd Hatcher, a historian and Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Japan Policy Research Institute, moderated the panel. “Butterfly has had a very interesting life span,” Hatcher said as he told the history behind the opera.
The opera is based loosely on the novel Madame Chrysanthème, which was authored by Pierre Loti and published in France in the late 1800s. In the novel, a naval officer was temporarily married to a Japanese woman while in Nagasaki.“It was an intriguing story, particularly in the West, which was fascinated by things Chinese and Japanese at the end of the 19th century,” he said.
Hatcher told the audience that the novel was turned into a play and performed in 1900 in the West End of London. Puccini saw the play and decided to write the opera Madame Butterfly.
The event also included performances by Glueckert, a tenor and Adler Fellow at the San Francisco Opera; Soo-Jeong Kim, a soprano and graduate student at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music; and Pajer, a pianist and music director of the Opera Program at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.