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Madama Butterfly Analysis

Decent Essays
Italian opera of the 19th century was deeply rooted in national life. Italy was unified under Victor Emmanuel II in 1859-61, and verismo was the popular form of composing operas at this time. Verismo, or realism, is a phase of naturalism in literature and music characterized by projection on stage of fierce passions, violence, and death. Operas of the verismo style paint a picture of everyday people that were mainly from the middle class, doing extraordinary things. An example of this is Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, which is set in the contemporary world, and deals with an American sailor and his Japanese bride. The opera challenges the superficially "exotic" world of Japan that it inhabits, and ends with a geisha girl committing suicide on stage. In Madama Butterfly, Puccini blends the musical styles from Italy, Japan, and America to create an opera for all.
While opera was and has been rooted in its own nationality, composers started to include the ideas of exoticism in their writing. At this time, Japan had closed themselves off from other lands for about 300 years. When they opened up, westerners were curious about the Japanese culture and vise versa. Rudolf Dittrich was a teacher of western music at the Tokyo School of Music, Puccini quotes Dittrich’s music many times throughout Madama Butterfly in order to create a hybrid of Westernized Japanese style . Puccini uses this hybrid style instead of authentic Japanese melodies in order to accentuate the drama of Butterfly’s
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