Have you ever seen the opera Madame Butterfly? I hadn’t seen it until this year, when my wife and I visited a friend in Wiesbaden. We went to the famous Staatstheater opera house, and right as the lights were dimming, I leaned over to my wife and said: “Wait for the twist at the end. It’s messed up.”
If you know the plot of Madame Butterfly, you know there’s really no twist at all; the end is just tragically obvious. But I’d somehow managed to get my wires crossed and add a twist of my own. See, back in the early 90s, I was watching TV with my parents in our living room. I think we were watching Barbara Walters or some other evening show, because I remember an interview called M. Butterfly or The True Story of M. Butterfly, or something like that. In the interview, some European dude admits to falling in love with a Chinese woman and having an affair with her for like 20 years, but she later turns out to be a man. The interviewer kept asking him how he could possibly have been oblivious to the fact that he was having sex with a dude for the better part of two decades, but he just shrugged his shoulders and said he’d been “young and naive.”
I remember thinking, Holy Christ, you are one stupid motherfucker, and then going to bed. I did have some questions the next day, however, like: Did the woman excuse herself every single time they were about to have sex so she could lube up her cinnamon ring? What about her twig and berries? Did she just tuck all that shit to the side and pray the dude didn’t notice? Or was she just like, “Lower, lower, lower… way lower… there it is.”
I never forgot about that interview, but I did manage to misremember it as the basis for the opera Madame Butterfly, by Giacomo Puccini. That’s why I gave my wife the heads up about the massive plot twist at the end; I couldn’t wait to see the look on her face when Ciocio-san hauls her dick out. But by the middle of the third act, it occurred to me there wasn’t nearly enough time left for the plot to take any major left turns — especially not for a proper dick revelation. I was sadly disappointed at the end when Ciocio-san merely stabbed herself to death right as Pinkerton decided to show up and feel bad for being the world’s biggest asshole. What a letdown. Ciocio-san whipping out her triumphant cock would have been a way better ending.
When the lights came up and the performers started taking their bows, my wife turned to me like, what the hell? And I was all like, “I don’t even know. I thought Ciocio-san was a dude the whole time. I’m sorry.”
As it turns out, M. Butterfly is a play by David Henry Hwang, based very loosely upon the opera Madame Butterfly. The play has been made into a movie like four different times. What I was remembering was M. Butterfly, the 1993 David Cronenberg film, starring Jeremy Irons and John Lone. My parents and I had been watching some interview following the release of the movie, in which the true story of Bernard Boursicot and Shi Pei Pu was discussed. It all makes so much more sense now!
Anyway, the actual opera we saw in Wiesbaden was pretty cool. Even though opera isn’t really my thing — and there weren’t even any dongs in it — I have to award Madame Butterfly with a solid 4 out of 5 Merkel Diamonds:
Here are some pictures from our trip to Wiesbaden. Click one of the thumbnails to start the slideshow. And as always, thank you for reading!