Chapter published in:Opera in Translation: Unity and diversity
Edited by Adriana Şerban and Kelly Kar Yue Chan
[Benjamins Translation Library 153] 2020
► pp. 195–216
The migration of Madama Butterfly
Otherness in the creation and translation of Puccini’s opera
This paper looks at the role that translation has played in depicting Butterfly as Other. The first part examines the translation processes that intervened in the transposition of Butterfly’s tale from short story and play to opera. The second part provides an analysis of the earliest French and English translations of the libretto using Lance Hewson’s approach to literary translation criticism. By taking a text-based approach, this study puts into question the notion that modifying the meaning of a libretto is acceptable as long as the words conform to the music. It also seeks to challenge the way in which Butterfly has sometimes been regarded as the archetype of the Asian woman in Western imaginations.
Keywords: Puccini, Madama Butterfly, opera, exoticism, otherness, translation criticism, literary translation
Published online: 29 October 2020
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