Madame Butterfly, How I Love Thee!

Good morning, readers!

If you’ve read “Vox”, you’ll have noticed the heavy opera usage through out the book. Not only did certain opera pieces inspire parts of the book, the book plays out as a kind of dark fantasy opera. In order for me to really get into the mood of the book, I listened to several opera pieces (at one point for 11 hours!), looked up the translations for some of the Italian lyrics, and researched the background of each opera to get a sense of what was occurring there.

The most poignant piece in “Vox” is Un Bel di Vedremo from Madama Butterfly. I have to praise Puccini for composing such a heart-rending piece. It inspired the undying love between Eileen and her deceased husband, Tom. The story in the original opera follows the tale of a Japanese girl who marries an American Naval officer. Both have their own reasons for doing so. The Naval officer leaves soon after the wedding, while Butterfly anxiously awaits his return. When he does so, he returns with an American wife which in consequence, breaks Butterfly’s heart. She ends her life soon after.

“Vox” certainly isn’t as dramatic as the original opera. I wanted to borrow that sense of longing that appears in Un Bel di Vedremo and use it for Eileen, who carries the memories of her husband with her through out the book. She has already been devastated by his death. Psychiatrists have tried to tell her she must go on without him, that he is never coming back (such as the roles of Suzuki, the maid and Goro, the matchmaker, in the play did with Butterfly). But she continues to hold onto the idea that she can’t let him go until it is too late.

I’ve attached a link to the song here. It is sung by Renee Fleming. Please give it a listen.

~KSilva

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