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About "Suiryo-Bushi"

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Title in English: "Foreboding Tune"

History

A popular song in the 1880’s and 1890’s.  John Luther Long translated the words of this song and included them in his story, Madame Butterfly (1898).  That story became the basis for David Belasco's play Madame Butterfly (1900), which in turn became the main source for the story of Puccini's opera Madama Butterfly (1904).

Text

“Joy of meeting, Sorrow of parting. If only there were just meeting, and no parting.”
(Powils-Okano, p. 57)

Remarks

"Suiryo-Bushi" appears in Giocomo Puccini's opera Madama Butterfly in two places.  It first occurs as one of three Japanese songs from which the aria "Che tua Madre" is constructed.  (The other songs used in that aria are "Kappore-Honen" and "Jizuki-Uta".)  Later, "Suiryo-Bushi" has the honor of providing the final music in the final scene of the opera.  It is played tutta forza by the orchestra to bring down the curtain after Butterfly's death.

For a list of Puccini's Japanese songs, with details of where each song is used in the opera, see Japanese Songs in Puccini's Madama Butterfly on this website.

References

Nagai, Y., and Kobatake, K., Japanese Popular Music, A Collection of the Popular Music of Japan Rendered in to the Staff Notation, S. Miki & Co., Nos. 106 and 107 Shinsaibashi Road, Osaka, 1892.

Hara, Kunio, Puccini's Use of Japanese Melodies in Madama Butterfly, Master's thesis, University of Cincinnati, 2003.  Download from http://www.ohiolink.edu/etd/send-pdf.cgi?ucin1060955367 [Large pdf file, 3MB].

Powils-Okano, Kimiyo, Puccinis "Madama Butterfly", Verlag für systematische Musikwissenschaft GmbH, Bonn, 1986 (in German).

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