Throughout its performance history, Madame Butterfly (1904) by Giacomo Puccini has

attracted significant intrigue and controversies. Through its protagonist Cio-Cio San, the opera

depicts Asian femininity as weak-willed, servile and ultimately powerless in the face of Western

forces. This paper will examine the trajectory of this narrative of Orientalism through Madame

Butterfly and its two modern adaptations, Miss Saigon (1989) and M. Butterfly (1993). Through an analysis of both informal and formal sources, this study will show how the Orientalist womanhood is first accepted and embraced by the native audiences of Madame Butterfly, is rejected by the audiences of Miss Saigon and finally subverted in M. Butterfly. The transformations in critical receptions of the three works alongside changing historical and political contexts reflect a gradual evolution in society’s views of East-West power relations, national identity, and the constructs of femininity and gender.

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