Posts in video
re: M. Butterfly

Definition of vanessa

1. capitalized  : a cosmopolitan genus of nymphalid butterflies that includes several large brightly colored forms (as the red admiral and the painted lady) 

2. plural -s  : any butterfly of the genus Vanessa


The Butterfly Effect

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.[1]

A very small change in initial conditions had created a significantly different outcome.[2]

Edward Lorenz's work placed the concept of instability of the earth's atmosphere onto a quantitative base and linked the concept of instability to the properties of large classes of dynamic systems which are undergoing nonlinear dynamics and deterministic chaos.[3]

The butterfly effect can also be demonstrated by very simple systems.



Madame Butterfly (American Novel, 1898)


Madame Butterfly is a short story by American lawyer and writer John Luther Long. It is based on the recollections of Long's sister, Jennie Correll, who had been to Japan with her husband—a Methodist missionary, and was influenced by Pierre Loti's 1887 novel Madame Chrysanthème.[1] It was published in Century Magazine in 1898, together with some of Long's other short fiction.


Madame Chrysanthème (French novel, 1887)

Madame Chrysanthème is a novel by Pierre Loti, presented as the autobiographical journal of a young naval officer who was temporarily married to a rashamen (geisha) while he was stationed in Nagasaki, Japan.[1] 

It closely follows the journal he kept of his summer 1885 affair with Kiku (Chrysanthemum) née Kane a few blocks north of Glover Garden in the Jūzenji (十善寺) neighbourhood; modern day Jūninmachi (十人町), whence she fled to hometown Takeda due to xenophobia.[2] 

Originally written in French and published in 1887Madame Chrysanthème was very successful in its day, running to 25 editions in the first five years of its publication with translations into several languages including English.[3] It has been considered a key text in shaping western attitudes toward Japan at the turn of the 20th century.



The Introduction to Mme. Chrysanthème begins with... 

"We were at sea, about two o’clock in the morning, on a fine night, under a starry sky..." 

and then officially: 


At dawn we beheld Japan.

"Precisely at the foretold moment the mysterious land arose before us, afar off, like a black dot in the vast sea, which for so many days had been but a blank space."

What made Loti’s novel so extra­or­di­nar­ily suc­cess­ful was his atten­tion to descrip­tive detail. Not only the minu­tiae of Madame Chrysanthemum’s daily life, but of the coun­try­side itself, the houses and tem­ples, peo­ple on the street, reli­gious pro­ces­sions, almost any­thing that made life in Japan dif­fer­ent from West­ern life found its way into the book.

It went through 25 edi­tions in five years and was trans­lated into other lan­guages, includ­ing Eng­lish. It was also the basis of André Messager’s 1883 opera, Madame Chrysan­thème.

Madame Chrysanthème (French opera, 1893)

Madame Chrysanthème is an opera, described as a comédie lyrique, with music by André Messager to a libretto by Georges Hartmann and Alexandre André, after the semi-autobiographical novel Madame Chrysanthème (1887) by Pierre Loti. It consists of four acts with a prologue and an epilogue and is set in Nagasaki, Japan.[1]


(And now we return to MADAME BUTTERFLY 1898)

Long's story, "Madam Butterfly," used the French novel as a structural model but his attention is firmly held by the eponymous geisha. His 18-page story first appeared in the January 1898 issue of Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine.

PLOT: Lieutenant Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton (the name itself is an ironic accentuation of his role as the American intruder) of the United States Navy marries the young Cho-Cho-San, nicknamed "Madam Butterfly," and forces her to relinquish all ties to her friends and family. Unlike her counterpart in Madame Chrysanthème, the naïve Butterfly believes that her marriage is real, and she allows herself to fall in love.

Pinkerton departs with his ship, promising to return. During his absence, Butterfly gives birth to his child. She names the boy Trouble, a name she plans to change to Joy when she reunites with her husband. When Pinkerton's ship finally does return, Butterfly learns that he has married an American woman who wishes to take Butterfly's child back to the United States. Butterfly attempts suicide but survives and is bandaged in the amateurish but moving final scene of the story.

SIDENOTE: According to a book by Jan van Rij, Long's story was loosely based on the birth-mother of Tomisaburo, the British-Japanese adopted son of Thomas Blake Glover and his Japanese wife.[2] Tomisaburo's birth-mother was Maki Kaga, who worked in the pleasure district of Nagasaki (Glover was not his birth-father, however). It was Long's sister Sara Jane Correll who first used the name "Cho-Cho-San" for Maki Kaga. 


 Illustrations by C. Yarnall Abbott for the 1903 Luther edition of "Madame Butterfly"

Long's story was wildly popular with a public fascinated by the exotic. Many famed actresses approached him for the dramatic rights, but it was David Belasco, himself at the peak of his fame, who adapted Butterfly for the stage.


Madame Butterfly – A Tragedy of Japan  (American Play, 1900)

Madame Butterfly: A Tragedy of Japan is a play in one act by David Belasco adapted from John Luther Long's 1898 short story "Madame Butterfly". It premiered on March 5, 1900, at the Herald Square Theatre in New York City and became one of Belasco's most famous works. The play and Long's short story served as the basis for the libretto of Puccini's 1904 operaMadama Butterfly. The title role was originally played in New York and London by Blanche Bates; in 1900–01 in New York by Valerie Bergere;[1] and in 1913 by Clara Blandick.


Valerie Bergere as Cho Cho San (ca. 1902).


Contrary to numerous reports, Belasco wrote the stage version without Long's assistance. However, the playwright borrowed liberally from the magazine story and therefore much of the dialogue is indeed Long's.

The play had only one act and was produced as part of a double bill with a farce entitled Naughty Anthony, also by Belasco. The entire action of the play takes place two years after Pinkerton's departure. Thus the focus is almost entirely on Butterfly and her maid.

Pinkerton makes an ignominious entrance toward the conclusion of the play, inspiring and witnessing Butterfly's (this time successful) suicide. Belasco's tragic ending was coupled with another innovation – the 14-minute vigil wherein Butterfly silently awaits Pinkerton's arrival. Belasco vividly depicted the night's shadows through creative lighting effects.

Once again, the exotic setting played a major role in the success of Butterfly. The lack of familiarity with Japanese culture served not only as a point of interest but also as a form of insulation from the play's tragic conclusion. The London Times reported, "in any other than an exotic setting, the dramatic episode would be intolerably painful." It was this London production that Puccini witnessed in the summer of 1900.



When Puccini enters the picture...

In June 1900 Gia­como Puc­cini (1858 – 1924) was in Lon­don to super­vise the Eng­lish pre­mière of his lat­est opera Tosca, at the time only six months old. Sev­eral peo­ple, includ­ing the Covent Gar­den stage direc­tor, Fran­cis Nielsen, urged him to go to the Duke of York The­atre to see David Belasco’s newest sen­sa­tion, the play Madame But­ter­fly — A Tragedy of Japan. In later years, Belasco would claim that after the per­for­mance, Puc­cini had rushed back­stage, embraced him, and pleaded to be allowed to turn Belasco’s play into an opera.

“I agreed at once,” Belasco said, “and told him he could do any­thing he liked with the play, and make any sort of con­tract, because it was impos­si­ble to dis­cuss arrange­ments with an impul­sive Ital­ian who has tears in his eyes and both of his arms around your neck.”

Madama Butterfly (Italian Opera, 1904)

Madama Butterfly (IPA: [maˈdaːma ˈbatterflai]Madam Butterfly) is an opera in three acts (originally two) by Giacomo Puccini, with an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa.

The original version of the opera, in two acts, had its premiere on 17 February 1904 at Teatro alla Scala in Milan. It was poorly received, despite such notable singers as soprano Rosina Storchio, tenor Giovanni Zenatello and baritone Giuseppe De Luca in lead roles; this was due in part to a late completion by Puccini, and thus inadequate time for rehearsals. Puccini revised the opera, splitting Act II into two (with the Humming Chorus as a bridge to what became Act III) and making other changes. Success ensued, starting with the first performance on 28 May 1904 in Brescia.[5]


Some Details on Puccini composing this work... 

Puccini and his librettists took steps to introduce an element of realism into the new opera. Illica even traveled to Nagasaki to investigate local colour, while Puccini set about researching Japanese music. He visited with the wife of the Japanese ambassador to Italy, who sang Japanese folk songs to him. She also acquired for him sheet music for further study.

Puccini’s music for the opera reflects what he had learned and even makes a few direct references to the Japanese songs he had been exposed to. To delineate the American characters, Puccini often used a bluff forthright manner of expression, and he occasionally worked in bits of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

For all his care in composing the opera, Puccini was stunned at its reception. The opening-night audience openly jeered, booing and hissing throughout the performance. Madama Butterfly’s Japanese theme was mocked, and its tragic heroine was derided as a secondhand copy of Mimì from La Bohème. Puccini withdrew the opera from performance after opening night, but he was not discouraged.

Perhaps he was aware that jealous rivals had filled the house with their own noisy supporters. Nevertheless, he and his librettists began extensive revisions, most notably dividing the opera’s overly long second act. The new Madama Butterfly, which reached the stage in Brescia, Italy, on May 28, 1904, was a great success. Two more revisions would follow, in 1905 and 1906, before the opera reached its definitive form. All versions included “Un bel dì,” which remains one of the best-known arias in the soprano repertoire.

*Here is a timeline of how the composition process came about*


Film Adaptations


You can watch the 1995 film in full below


Yet Another Metamorphosis 

M. Butterfly (American Play, 1988)

1989_02 M Butterfly Vanity Fair.jpg


M. Butterfly is a play by David Henry Hwang loosely based on the relationship between French diplomat Bernard Boursicotand Shi Pei Pu, a Peking opera singer. The play premiered on Broadway in 1988 and won the 1988 Tony Award for Best Play.


The first act introduces the main character, Rene Gallimard, who is a civil servant attached to the French embassy in China. He falls in love with a beautiful Chinese opera diva, Song Liling, who is actually a man masquerading as a woman. In traditional Beijing opera, females were banned from the stage; all female roles (dan) were played by males. The first act ends with Gallimard returning to France in shame and living alone after his wife, Helga, finds out about his affair with Song and leaves him.

Act two begins with Song coming to France and resuming the affair with Gallimard. They stay together for 20 years until the truth is revealed, and Gallimard is convicted of treason and imprisoned. Unable to face the fact that his "perfect woman" is actually a man, that has been posing as a woman for 20 years to be able to spy, he retreats deep within himself and his memories. The action of the play is depicted as his disordered, distorted recollection of the events surrounding their affair.

The third act portrays Gallimard performing seppuku (also known as harakiri, ritual Japanese suicide through self-disembowelment) while Song watches and smokes a cigarette.



And Another Film Adaptation

1993_10_03 M Butterfly Ad.jpg

M. Butterfly is a 1993 American romantic drama film directed by David Cronenberg. The screenplay was written by David Henry Hwang based on his play of the same name. The film stars Jeremy Irons and John Lone, with Ian RichardsonBarbara Sukowa, and Annabel Leventon.[1]


Loosely based on true events (see Bernard Boursicot and Shi Pei Pu), the film concerns René Gallimard (Jeremy Irons), a French diplomat assigned to BeijingChina in the 1960s. He becomes infatuated with a Chinese opera performer, Song Liling (John Lone), who spies on him for the Government of the People's Republic of China. Their affair lasts for 20 years, with Gallimard all the while apparently unaware (or willfully ignorant) of the fact that in traditional Chinese opera, all roles are performed by men.

M Butterfly CD 01.jpg


Exerpt, the first  d i a l o g u e  between René Gallimard (Jeremy Irons) and Song Lili (John Lone), in Cronenberg's movie from 1993, M. Butterfly:


re: M. Butterfly returns to the stage


A rare species of theatrical achievement can be discovered in New York City this month by the most intrepid of audience members. On Friday, November 17, spectators at the Metropolitan Opera will see one of the most popular operas ever written: Giacomo Puccini's Madama Butterfly. A day later, on November 18, the same viewers can watch two Broadway shows, back-to-back, that are inspired by this foundational work: David Henry Hwang's Tony-winning drama M. Butterfly and Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg's musical Miss Saigon.
Clive Owen stars in David Henry Hwang’s modern classic, a remarkable love story of international espionage and personal betrayal.
E_J_Gushue_Photo 1.jpg

resonating re:views


Critics seem evenly split on the effectiveness of this new production. Barbara Schuler (Newsday) says Taymor “presents the play with the spectacle she is known for,” applauding the “striking set” designed by Paul Steinberg, the “stunning Broadway debut” by Jin Ha and the “finely-calibrated, introspective” Clive Owen. Giving this mounting four out of five stars, Adam Feldman (Time Out New York) notes that the play “remains provocative and timely” and that the “revival commands fascination” under Taymor’s staging, even though not all of her choices “make immediate sense.”

Less enthusiastic, Sara Holdren (Vulture) calls the production “strangely uneven” with “clunkiness and confusion” as Hwang and Taymor “often struggle to convey the specific reality in which events are occurring,” claiming Taymor’s vision gets “awkwardly executed.” Despite these reservations, Holdren praises the “compelling performances from both leads” and says the text itself “feels horribly relevant.” Ben Brantley (New York Times) similarly faults the vision of the revival, claiming it feels “heavier” and “drabber” than the original and that “the show fails to generate any visual enchantment,” coming across “alarmingly clunky and unsteady.”

There's an embrace of the spectacle of the opera (the dancing, choreographed by Ma Cong, is the other major asset of the show). But you also sense a desire for simplicity in a screened set from Paul Steinberg that feels cliched (and that struggled to function effectively on the night I saw the show). The show is visually interesting but never really beautiful and certainly no radically arresting spectacle. Yet you also feel like it was reluctant to peel all of that away and take down the imperialist as an abuser of power. Ha has an arc for his character's self-discovery. Otherwise, the production is mired in an indecisive middle.

It flaps its wings but never takes flight.

Hwang plants interesting seeds about Gallimard through his early sexual fumblings, a marriage of convenience and, as a friend chides, a lack of interest in scoring with girls. But there’s no mystery or ambiguity in Owen’s portrait. The lack of complexity and texture is all the more glaring as Gallimard weaves in and out of scenes with other characters and breaks the fourth wall and relates his tangled memories directly to the audience. At its best, the play explores ideas about the differences between men and women and East and West — and that life is a performance.


tunneling, visual, video, essanityEssa Li
Rosenthaler Straße 1

from my hotel room window.

Fabisch’s Clothing: The Ph. Fabisch Company at Rosenthaler Platz


The Rosenthaler Platz in Berlin has always been a unique and lively place, not least during the 1920s when it was the dividing line between two contrasting worlds. As a place where the working class housing neighbourhoods rubbed shoulders with the glamorous shopping streets it was the perfect setting for the German novelist Döblin in his famous description of the city in the twenties, Berlin Alexanderplatz. The protagonist of Döblin’s novel – Franz Biberkopf – is released from the prison in nearby Moabit and returns to the heart of the city and the streets around Rosenthaler Platz. Throughout the novel Döblin provides numerous descriptions of the neighbourhood that The Circus calls home, including the building that now houses The Circus Hotel. But what took place there?

“It warmed up after two days, Franz sold his winter coat, is wearing long underwear,….he is standing at Rosenthaler Platz in front of Fabisch’s Clothing, Fabisch& Co., fine men’s clothing, made to measure, quality workmanship and low prices guaranteed.”

Rosenthaler Straße 1, like many other buildings on Rosenthaler Platz and in the surrounding neighbourhood, was built well over a hundred years ago. These buildings survived the bombardments and battles of the Second World War, as well as the neglect of the communist era when these streets were at the heart of East Berlin.

When the building was first erected, one of the stores that made its home there specialised in coffee, tea, sugar and other imported goods. It was not long, however, before this store was replaced by a men’s outfitter, the “Ph Fabisch” company which would eventually find itself in the pages of Berlin Alexanderplatz. Philipp Fabisch’s clothing store was in keeping with a family tradition, the next in a long line of Fabischs that had been in the clothing business.

Philipp Fabisch opened his first store at Rosenthaler Straße 2 – at the junction with Linienstraße – in 1871. Later he would move to number one, a more prominent location directly on the Rosenthaler Platz. In 1896 he purchased the building, and by the turn of the century it was possible to purchase clothing for all the family at the northern end of the Rosenthaler Straße. In addition to Philipp’s store, there were others run by family members: At Rosenthaler Platz 3 Adolf Fabisch ran “Fabisch& Co”, supplying clothing for men and boys. Number two also belonged to the family and a certain Max Fabisch who we will return to later. A few metres down the road Bernard Fabisch was dealing in women’s hats at Rosenthaler Straße 63/64.

Elsewhere in the city, on the other side of Alexanderplatz, Gustav Fabisch ran a wholesale and export store, while Max and Alfred Fabisch had established a women’s coat factory on the Chauseestraße, close to Invalidenstraße, which was called “Max Fabisch& Co”. And it was not only in Berlin-Mitte that the Fabisch family operated. Mannheim Fabisch owned two stores in the then-outlying district of Schöneberg, a men’s and boy’s clothing store as well as a second hand store, both of which had opened in 1868.

As well as working in the Rosenthaler Platz neighbourhood, Philipp Fabisch and his wife Therese lived in the area, at Rosenthaler Straße 72. This building also housed a clothing store that had a Fabisch connection, the owner Max Cohn having married Margarete, maiden name Fabisch.

Philipp Fabisch was born on November 16th 1839 in the town of Wreschen (nowadays called Września, in Poland). He came to the Prussian capital in the wave of emigration from the outlying provinces which occurred during the second half of the nineteenth century, and made his fortune to the extent that he became a millionaire, a story repeated by quite a few of the aforementioned family members. In addition to clothing stores, Philipp Fabisch also owned buildings, such as Rosenthaler Stasse 1, Number 72 on the same street, and at least three other buildings in the city.

Despite being relatively well known for his economic achievements, not much is known about Phillipp Fabisch’s private life. He had three children (a fourth – Siegmund – died in childhood), and he was a senior member of the “Posener’s Organisation” (Verein der Posener), an organisation for people who came from the region around Posen. Philipp was also involved with and supported, along with Adolf and Max Fabisch, the “Higher Institute for Jewish Studies” (Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums) in Berlin, in which many important Jewish figures studied, taught and did research.

On October 5th 1917 Philipp Fabisch passed away, and was buried next to his wife Therese (neé Pick, b.1838, d.1899) in the Jewish Cemetery in Weissensee, where the grave remains to this day. Following Philipp Fabisch’s death, a group of his heirs managed his properties and businesses for the next two decades, namely Philipp’s three children Margarete Cohn, Hulda Pach and Max Fabisch, along with Margerete’s husband Max Cohn (who died towards the end of 1933). As we have seen the Cohn family and Max Fabisch also had their own companies as well as managing Philipp Fabisch’s empire. The clothing store at Rosenthaler Platz remained open and kept the name “Ph. Fabisch”.

As well as the Fabisch store at Rosenthaler Straße 1 (currently home to The Circus Hotel), the building also housed a branch of the shoe company Salamander in the period leading up to the First World War. Around the turn of the century and up to 1908, the basement of the building also housed one of Berlin’s oldest reading rooms that had become known as the “writers’ library” (Schreiber-Lesehalle) because of all the jobless writers who spent time there.

In 1938 this building on the south west corner of Rosenthaler Platz was “transferred to Aryan possession”. This matter-of-fact wording was used in the business section of the Jüdische Rundschau (Jewish Review) on November 1st 1938, only days before the Reichskristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) when Synagogues were torched and Jewish-owned businesses across Germany were pillaged. The Philipp Fabisch GmbH was liquidated on April 5th 1939.

The Nazi repression and ever increasing persecution shattered the Fabisch family. Philipp Fabisch’s three children – the remaining shareholders of the company – were deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1942 and murdered, following years of harassment and oppression in their home city of Berlin. Almost all the grandchildren of Philipp Fabisch managed to escape and emigrated to the United States in time, and thus survived. A single grandchild, who emigrated to France in 1936, was most likely deported from there to Auschwitz.

After the Second World War Rosenthaler Platz was in the Soviet sector, which would later become the capital city of the German Democratic Republic – communist East Germany. Rosenthaler Straße 1 remained a clothing store, but it no long stood on the corner of Elsasserstraße, which had been renamed Wilhelm-Pieck-Straße by the new regime. This department store at Rosenthaler Platz was part of a branch of the Handelsorganisation Fachhandel Berlin, Textil the state-owned chain of retail stores. Despite the fact that former employees report that there was often not a lot of work to do, or many products on sale, there were four people employed at the Rosenthaler Platz store at any one time, and many long-term friendships were made.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 a clothing store continued to operate at Rosenthaler Straße 1, the Mode-Treff: Dick aber Chic for over-size clothing. In the period that followed there were many different tenants, but the story comes to its conclusion with the opening of the Circus Hotel in October 2008. The owners of the Circus Hotel are very much aware of the history of the building at Rosenthaler Straße 1, as well as the surrounding neighbourhood, and most of all they live and work on the Rosenthaler Platz, respecting the accomplishments of the Fabisch family and remembering their fate.

essanity, videoEssa Li