The auditorium lights dimmed, and the cast and crew of Cincinnati Opera’s new production of Puccini’s "Madame Butterfly” anxiously took their places.
For months, the team, made up largely of Asian and Asian American artists, had worked to reimagine the classic opera, upending its stereotypes about women and Japanese culture. They had updated the look of the opera with costumes and sets partly inspired by anime, scrubbed the libretto of historical inaccuracies and recast much of the work as a video-game fantasy. They gathered at the Cincinnati Music Hall one evening last week to fine-tune their creation before its opening last Saturday.
"It feels a little like a grand experiment,” says the production’s director, Matthew Ozawa, whose father is Japanese and mother is white. "It’s very emotional.”