Madama Butterfly


At Central City Opera many have just experienced their first opera with exciting and educational activities leading up to it.

In case you’re wondering what an opera is, it is a dramatic work in one or more acts, in sync with singers, musicians, and instrumentalists. An opera is always sung.

Here is some background on Opera Houses: An Opera house is a pretty special place. An Opera house is made up of a stage, backstage, orchestra pit, and audience seating. It is specially made for singers to perform the opera. Most operas are larger than life, therefore needing a huge Opera House. A normal-sized Opera House usually has more than 1,000 seats.

Central City Opera house has about half as many seats as a normal-sized opera. It is called a jewel box theater. Just like a jewel box, they are small and beautifully decorated. Central City Opera has many beautiful decorations throughout the Opera House. Another fact that makes Central City Opera unique is that it is the 5th oldest opera in America. It must be pretty old!

Each summer, the Central City Opera Company has a day-long event to introduce young people to opera.

To begin this special day at Central City Opera, the viewers meet together and learn what activities they would do from a guide. Next, they get to choose from folding an origami butterfly and releasing a butterfly.

Why you may ask, did they choose origami? It is because origami was a pastime for many in Japan dating back to 1603. The word “Origami” originated from the Japanese word “Ori” meaning folding and “kami” meaning “paper”. This is a good activity because it relates to Madama Butterfly and the culture back then.

The other activity was a lot less work and skill for viewers, simply involving opening an envelope and releasing a butterfly. This was quite entertaining for all the people to do. The best part was to watch the butterfly take flight into a potful of flowers. Butterflies are very symbolic of femininity, grace, and beauty in Japanese culture. Being called “Butterfly” definitely suits the main character named Cio-cio-san.

After doing these activities, you would get to learn about Japanese culture and background information on the show. A character from the show taught the viewers common Japanese words and phrases. She explained how, even though the opera was Japanese, it would be sung in Italian and English subtitles would appear above the stage. She even taught them a song in Japanese about cherry blossoms and springtime.

Next, the viewers got to watch Madama Butterfly. It was about a young girl who marries an American lieutenant, but then he leaves her just a couple of days after the wedding. She waits for three years and still has hope that he will come back for her and the child that she gave birth to while he was away. Sadly, when he comes back, he doesn’t come alone. He brought his new American wife with him. Butterfly is devastated so, according to tradition, she kills herself.

All in all, this was an exciting day at the little, yet beautiful town of Central City. Many can’t wait to go again next year. It will probably have more fun things to do, and a good story to tell through the opera.