What were the errors of the original?
The revised edition of Puccini's [Madama
General artistic director of NPO Opera del
Popolo/Minnnano Opera (Revision, Partial translation
/Arrangement, Regie)-- Opera singer Takao OKAMURA
The famous opera [Madama Butterfly]was
performed for the first time at Teatro La Scala in 1904, introducing Japan to
the world as the best work which scene was laid in Japan(Nagasaki) in the second
half of Meiji era.
But quite unfortunately, especially for us Japanese, some misunderstandings and
misconceptions of Japan, which will be describedAexist in the original.
Puccini and his librettists tried hard to acquire exact information on Japan.
But obviously that was almost impossible for them as the sources for information on Japan that appeared in the world at that time
were quite limited.
Those errors were finally corrected by the Revised [Ciocio san] performed by the
NPO Opera del Popolo in 2003 in Tokyo, most probably for the first time in the
world, 100 years after from the first perfomance. The conflict of Japanese and
occiedental culture was the sub-concept of this performances in 2003. (Puccini
himself revised this opera 3 times.--Editions: Brescia, London, and Paris--. And
we used the Edition Paris as it is most popular nowadays.)
This revision is in Japanese language for the performances in Japan, for the
Japanese audience. But we look forward to performing abroad correcting the
errors in the original Italian language, and try to show the authentic Nagasaki
in the Meiji era and how Japanese people contacted with foreigners at that
periodAthrough the drama of Ciocio san, maintaining the splendor of this
In addition: Some parts which were originally in Italian to be spoken by
Japanese were translated into Japanese for the Japanese audience. And some
Japanese (spoken)dialogs which are not in the original, were inserted in the
part of Italian by the singers on the stage whose characters speak Japanese.
---Autumn 2003, in Tokyo
(VS=Vocal score of the
revised [Ciocio san] performances of the NPO Opera del Popol-2003/4)
Mistakes of Japanese name and custom
1) Original: Suzuki sings to Pinkerton="Sorride Vostro Onore? Il riso e' frutto
e fiore. Disse il savio Ocunama: dei crucci la trama smaglia il sorriso."--VS 14
Note: The Wise Ocunama did not and does not exist in Japan. So, Ocunama is
omitted. As "riso" means laugh and also rice in Italian==Japanese feed on
rice==, Ocunama must have said this sentence. And so the sentence "Il riso e'
frutto e fiore" is also omitted. Suzuki sings about the general function of
Revision: [Smile, your honor? Smile is the flower of human life and avoid the
troubles and the conspiracies.]
2)Original: Butterfly sees the groupe of three gentlemen and finds Pinkerton.
Closing her umbrella she indicates him to the girlfriends singing "F.B.
Pinkerton. Giu" and falls on her knees. The girlfriends close their umbrellas
and sing "Giu". --VS59 page.
Note:With the predominance of men over women at that time, and the adoration of
Western countries which still lasts now in Japan, it is quite natural that
Butterfly and her girl friends pay their respects to the US naval sailor. But it
is too much to fall on their knees., and so it is omitted together with the
singing of "Giu--down". Butterfly and her girlfriends only bow down.
Revision: Butterfly: "B. F. Pinkerton san". the girl friends: "Hajimemashite=How
do you do"
(F and B are reversed reversed following the French style reading of the name in
the paris edeiton, and are replaced in the original positions, as the imperial
commissar announces at the wedding ceremony "Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton"
rightly in English.
3)Original: Butterfly, coming back, goes to sit on the terrace near Pinkerton
and takes out some statuettes of the Buddha from her sleeves, singing:"Gli
Ottoke" --VS 97 page.
Note: The word "Ottoke" does not exist in Japan. It must be "Mihotoke" or "Hotoke
sama". Anyhow, it is quite unlikely that a bride would show her female
belongings to her groom, taking them out from her sleeves, even if the groom is
a foreigner. Butterfly converted from Buddhism to Christianity the night before
with her baptism at the church. Still it is very unnatural for her, as a young
daughter of a good family, to make light of the Buddha's statuettes.
Revision: Suzuki brings out a statuette of the Buddha on a table, and Butterfly
shows it to Pinkerton singing "Hotoke sama".
4)Original: The official sings out at the marriage ceremomy "--ed alla damigella
Butterfly del quartiere d'Omara Nagasaki,--" --VS 104 page.
Note: It must be Omura instead of Omara.
Revision:[--and nonage Ciocio san from Omura of Nagasaki prefecture--]
5)Original: The relatives and the girlfriends of Butterfly cerebrate the
marriage of Butterfly and Pinkerton singing "O Kami! O Kami!".--VS 110 page
Note: Kami means God in Japanese. It is normal custom in western countries to celebrate the
marriage worshipping only one God, and not in pantheistic Japan.
Revision: [How happy! How happy!=Medetaya! Medetaya!]
6)Original: The uncle of Butterfly, Bonzo taunts her about her conversion singing
"Ciocio san!, Ciocio san!".--VS 112 page.
Note: The word "san" is used honorifically in Japan. The uncle never taunts his
niece calling her with "san"
Revision: [Ciocio yo-! Ciocio yo-!]
7)Original: Uncle Bonzo curses Butterfly singing "Kami sarundasico!" --VS
Note: "Kami sarundasico" has no meaning in Japanese. If it is a mispronouciation
of "Sarudahiko no Kami", Sarudahiko is one of the deities of Shintoism
(travelers' guardian deity) and should not be used by Bonzo, a priest of
Revision: [Judgement on you!=Tenbatsuyo oriyo!]
8)Original: Goro sings to Butterfly and Sharpless indicating Yamadori "Ville,
servi, oro, ad Omara un plazzo principesco". --VS 214 page.
Note:The same error of 3).
Revision: [Near by he has a huge palace also.=Chikakuniwa ookina gotenmo
9)Original: Butterfly sings "Che tua madre dovra prenderti in braccio, ed alla
pioggia e al vento andar per la citta' a guadagnarti il pane e il vestimento. Ed
alle impietosite genti, la man tremante stendera' ! gridando: Udite, udite la
triste mia canzon. A un'infelice madre la carita', muoveteVi a pieta'! E
Butterfly, orribile destino, danzera' per te! E come fece gia' . La Ghesha
cantera'! ...". --VS 243 page.
Note: Ghesha is not a dishonorable profession as mentioned here. They do not
dance and sing on the street in city like beggars.
Revision: [Ciocio san sings "Your mother goes to Ozashiki=Japanese-style room
entertain her customers=even if it rains or windy, to avoid hunger and cold,
smiling even to the most disgusting, and even to the most drunken customer,
doing services of any kind, even if forced to do, and sing and dance for
Confusion of Shintoism and Buddhism
==The government of Meiji reformed the former mixture of Shintoism and Buddhism
and separated those two religions in Japan.==
[Other than those undermentioned, 6)also belongs to the same confusion]
10)Original: Suzuki chants a prayer to the Buddha."E Izaghi ed Izanami
Sarundasico e Kami,--" --VS 127 page.
Note: Izaghi must be Izanaghi, and Sarundasico must be Sarudahiko. But this is a
prayer of Shintoism! Estimating that Suzuki belongs to the leading Buddhism
persuasion in Nagasaki, Nichiren-shu, her chant is the Nichiren-shu as below.
11)Original: Suzuki chants a prayer to Buddha."E Izaghi ed Izanami Sarundasico e
Kami*1),-- Oh la mia testa! --[suona la campanella*2) per richiamare
l'attenzione degli Dei]--E tu Tensjodai*3)fate che Butterfly non pianga piu."
--VS 169 page.
Note: *1)-The same confusion. *2)-La campanella must be Rin, the instrument of
the Buddhism prayer. *3)-Tensjodai is a word unknown word. It could be from "Amaterasu
Ohmikami", which pronounciation resembles the phonetic sound of Kanji(Chinese
character) of this deity of Shintoism.
Revision:(Suzuki)"Nammyo horengekkyo, for pity's sake--knocking the rin--please
mighty Buddha, do not let Butterfly cry"=" Nammyo horengekkyo, kawaisoni--
knocking the rin--doka, mihotoke sama, Ciocio san o nakasenaide..."
New Japanese Musical
It is our honor and pleasure to be able to use the following new musical
instruments which Maestro Akira NAITO, the musical director of the Tokyo New
City Orchestra, newly made and selected after his careful investigation of
Japanese religious sound-instruments to achive the effects which Puccini
Puccini's intention: Right before the marriage of Butterfly the harmonized sound
of a Japanese bells rings.--VS 102 page 3rd line 4th bar-103 page 1st line 3rd
bar, 2nd line 2nd/3rd bar, 4th line 3rd bar-104 page 1st line 1st bar, 105 page
2nd line 3rd-5th bar.
New Musical Instrument: 4 "Furin"(Japanese wind bell) tuned in 4 different
B)Original:(At the scene--Uncle Bonzo taunts his niece Butterfly)Tam Tam
Grave (interno)--VS112 page 1st line 3rd/5th bar.
Puccini's intention:The sound which express uncle Bonzo who is coming to
taunt Butterfly is the bell of a Japanese temple she hears from far beyond strongly
among the soft sounds of other instruments. The same bell sounds also at the
scene of Butterfly's suicide-- VS361 page 4th line 3rd bar 2nd tact.
New Musical Instrument:The sound of huge hunging bell of Japanese
C)Original:Tam Tam Giapponese.
Puccini's intention: The strong sound of "Kin" recalls Japan among the soft
sounds of other western instruments , in the beautiful love duet at the
end of the act 1.-- VS158 page 1st line 2nd bar 1st tact.2nd line 2nd bar 1st
tact,159 page 1st line 2nd bar 1st tact,2nd line 2nd bar 1st tact.And the
confrontation of Christianity against Buddhist is resolved finally in the mind
of Butterfly by the parallel sounds of the chime of the Church and the sound of
Temple --"Kin"--VS305 page 1st line 1st-4th bar.
New Musical Instrument:The representative bell of the Buddhism "Kin" tempered
c)Original:(The instrument of Buddhism which Suzuki rings in her prayer.)
Campanella--VS 168 page 4th line, 2nd/3rd bar, 169 page 3rd line 2nd/3rd tact.
Puccini's intention: Like all the Buddhists do, Suzuki rings a small bel in her
New Musical Instrument:The small bell "Rin" which is on the chest of the drawer.
To A) Puccini assigned "Campanelli Giapponesi"
in the score==Japanese bells which ring in the Japanese house, the house of Ciocio san(the Japanese style room, in this perefomance). And so, the bell must
be "furin" and nothing else, as Maestro Naito convinced. But it is unnatural
that "furin" rings by itself at the exact timing matches to the marriage
ceremony with a major 3rd as written in the VS. "sulla scena" is assigned
to this part in
the orchestra score, and so, Puccini might thought that some one among; Goro,
the clerk, the imperial commisar, or people on the stage, rings the special
musical instrument which is able to play the western tuning for the marriage
ceremony in Japan. Uncertain is this very short ceremony if it was performed
either in Buddhism or in Shintoism, as there is only a rough reading of the
identification of Ciocio san and Pinkerton and the validation of the marriage by the
officer. Puccini must have intended the musical beginning and end of the ceremony,
by Japanese musical instruments.
To B) As the huge bell of a Japanese temple is impossible to carry in the
theater, we recorded the sound and reproducted it from the back-stage. No
assignment of step on this bell.
To C) Puccini assumed the existence of Japanese Tam Tam with western pitches. Otherwise he
would not have written the music that is in the score. But there
havs been no such instrument in Japan. That is why Maestro Naito created new
"Kin" tempered dodecaphonically.
To c) "Rin" also has a western pitch -A as assigned in the score. When
Suzuki rings the small bell "Rin" which is on the chest of drawer, it sounds
harmonizes perfectly with the sound of the orchestra. It is realistic in Japan
to think the rin happened to have the step -A coincidentally.
Anyhow, Puccini wanted to apply western music to Japanese instruments.