Circling Butterfly by Sandy Cumberland

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Madama Butterfly. The heartbreaking tale of love and loss. Even the non-opera-goers amongst us can name that one, and, if pushed, can probably come up with a close approximation of the story. A young geisha in turn-of-the-20th-century Japan falls in love and marries an American Naval officer. She knows the marriage is arranged, but thinks their love is genuine, so when he returns to America she waits for him. Three years later, he returns, but with his beautiful American wife in tow. Butterfly discloses that they have a son together. He and his wife offer to take the boy back to America. Butterfly kills herself. End of story.

But... what about the stories around Butterfly. What about her faithful maid, Suzuki? Sharpless, the US consul who befriends the husband? And what becomes of Butterfly’s little boy that she prophetically called Sorrow? We meet them all in the opera, but only as fleeting glimpses. What of their lives? What of their pain?It’s the triptych of these three stories that are told here by local author and playrwright Sandy Cumberland: the lives that surrounded, loved, and mourned the delicate Butterfly. The stories of Suzuki, Sharpless and Thomas. Knowing the depth and breadth of their lives and their relationships with our heroine and each other brings fullness to Butterfly’s life as well, and makes her story all the more tragic.