Tuesday, February 14, 2017

I did this song for Valentine's Day, and it's about the most devoted and enduring love from fabled storytelling, that of Madame Butterfly for the American naval officer. who had to leave Japan shortly after their wedding- with a promise to return. She clings to her love for him, with a depth and purity that is unparalleled, for the rest of her life, but the outcome is even worse for her than him not returning.

Madame Butterfly appeared in 1898 as a short story by John Luther Long, based on a true story witnessed by his sister who had gone to Japan as an American missionary. Giacomo Puccini's Italian opera Madame Butterfly premiered in 1904, and it was 12 years later in 1916 that Raymond Hubbell and John Golden wrote their immortal song Poor Butterfly inspired by the opera. I wonder if they envisioned at the time that a century later, people would still be performing and listening to their song. 

Poor Butterfly remains a staple of the jazz repertoire, and the way these jazz musicians perform it today makes it sound so fresh and new, you'd think it was written yesterday. But, here is my rendition, dedicated to my 95 year old mother Rene Cinque, pronounced "Renn-ee" which is short for Renina. She has always been an opera lover, especially Italian opera, since she is Italian and can speak Italian and can understand the words. And her lifelong favorite has always been Madame Butterfly


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