M. Butterfly tells the story of a French diplomat posted in China, Rene Gallimard, who is brought to ruin and, eventually, convicted for espionage, after a twenty-year affair with a Beijing Opera diva. The diva, citing her Chinese modesty, manages to never appear naked in front of Gallimard. Thus, not only had Gallimard failed to recognize that this lover was a spy; he'd also failed to recognize that "she" was, in fact a he. The singer spies on Gallimard for the Chinese government, using Gallimard's own fantasies of submissive oriental femininity to deceive and manipulate him. Loosely based on the real-life relationship between French diplomat Bernard Boursicot and male Peking opera singer Shi Pei Pu, David Henry Hwang's award-winning drama also draws inspiration from Puccini's opera, Madama Butterfly.
M. Butterfly guide sections