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M. Butterfly production

M. Butterfly 蝴蝶君 2022

July 30 - August 24, 2022

Love has no boundaries.

René Gallimard, a civil servant at the French embassy in Beijing, falls in love with a beautiful Chinese opera singer named Song Liling. Song holds two shocking secrets, both of which eventually bring Gallimard professional and personal ruin.

David Henry Hwang’s Broadway smash hit is transformed into operatic form in collaboration with composer Huang Ruo. Don’t miss James Robinson’s gripping production that captures both the driving pulse and the lyricism of the music and reveals the blurred lines between fantasy and reality at the heart of this true story.

Don’t miss this highly anticipated World Premiere.

El amor no tiene límites.

René Gallimard, un funcionario de la embajada francesa en Beijing, se enamora de una hermosa cantante de ópera china llamada Song Liling. Song guarda dos secretos impactantes, los cuales eventualmente traen a Gallimard ruina profesional y personal.

El gran éxito de Broadway de David Henry Hwang se transforma en forma operística en colaboración con el compositor Huang Ruo. No se pierda la producción de James Robinson que captura tanto el excitante pulso como el lirismo de la música. Esta fascinante historia basada en una historia real, revelará las líneas borrosas que existen entre la fantasía y el mundo real.

No te pierdas este tan esperado estreno mundial.

Music By
Huang Ruo
Libretto By
David Henry Hwang
Sung In
Instant Translation Screen
English and Spanish
Production support generously provided by
Mellon Foundation
Agnes Hsu-Tang & Oscar Tang-Tang Fund
Edward & Betsy Cohen - The Aretê Foundation
Additional artistic support provided by
The Edgar Foster Daniels Foundation
National Endowment for the Arts
The General Director’s Premiere Fund in honor of Richard Gaddes
The Fund for New or Rarely Performed Operas
The engagement of Carolyn Kuan is supported by
The Marineau Family Foundation
The engagement of James Robinson is supported by
Douglas Dockery Thomas
Original production support generously provided by
The Marineau Family Foundation
Linda Pierce
The Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation
Special Thanks
M. Butterfly was developed with assistance from American Lyric Theater and Lawrence Edelson, Producing Artistic Director.
Production Illustration By
Benedetto Cristofani
Run Time
Approximately 2 hours 48 minutes; includes a 25-minute intermission
Please be advised
This production contains non-firing prop firearms, graphic language, nudity and a depiction of self-harm.


Act I

Paris, 1986. Partygoers mock the diplomat René Gallimard for his affair with a Peking Opera soprano. From his prison cell, Gallimard begins to tell his story.

Beijing, 1964. Gallimard is assigned to the newly-established French embassy. He goes to the opera and sees an enchanting soprano in the role of Madama Butterfly. He develops the fantasy that he is Pinkerton and Song Liling is Butterfly, the “Oriental” woman in submission to the “Western devil.” Gallimard’s boyhood friend Marc appears to him in a dream, congratulating him on his new love.

Gallimard visits Song at her flat. They drink tea together, but she sends him home. Her rebuff keeps him away from the opera for months. At last she writes to him, wishing to see him again.

The Ambassador, Toulon, informs Gallimard that he has been promoted to vice-consul. He goes immediately to Song’s flat to tell her the news.

Act II

Paris, 1986. Partygoers read more news about the Gallimard case.

Back in 1966, Toulon and Gallimard confer about America’s plans in Asia. Meanwhile, Comrade Chin of the People’s Liberation Army asks Song to serve the Revolution by passing on classified information from the French.

Gallimard is demoted because the Ambassador has lost faith in the Americans and in him. He goes to Song’s flat and demands that she strip for him. Then he relents … just in time for Song to announce to him that she is pregnant. Gallimard is aflame with joy: “I want to marry you!”

Song asks Chin to procure a male, blond mixed-race baby in seven months’ time. Toulon informs Gallimard that he is being sent home. Gallimard rushes to Song’s flat, intending to bring her back to France with him. The flat is deserted. An angry troupe of Revolutionary Chinese Opera performers takes the stage.


The Revolutionary Chinese Opera company stages a ritualistic denunciation of Comrade Song, the “actor-oppressor,” and recommends her rehabilitation. Chin orders her to go to Gallimard in France and send back weekly reports.

Gallimard, haggard, recalls his return to France ten years prior. Lonely, deflated and always haunted by Song’s memory, he would tell his story to anyone who would listen–but no one did.

Suddenly Song appears. Gallimard is transported by the reunion. Then two French counterintelligence agents come to arrest him on charges of espionage, claiming they have already extracted a confession from Monsieur Song. Before the audience’s eyes, Song is transformed from a woman in Chinese dress to a man in an Armani suit.

Song testifies in court. The judge asks whether Gallimard knew Song was a man. “You know, Your Honor,” Song replies, “I never asked.”

Song and Gallimard are left alone in a room in a prison. Song begins to strip. He will show René the truth. Gallimard protests that he only loved the lie. Declaring that he’d rather live in pure imagination, he sends Song away.

Dancers join Gallimard onstage and help him dress in kimono, wig and makeup. He is the Butterfly now.


Justin Kim headshot

Kangmin Justin Kim


Song Liling

Mark Stone headshot

Mark Stone


René Gallimard (through August 18)

Grendahl, Erik headshot

Erik Grendahl


René Gallimard (August 24)

Hongni Wu headshot

Hongni Wu


Comrade Chin | Shu Fung

Kevin Burdette headshot

Kevin Burdette


Manuel Toulon | Judge

Joshua Dennis headshot

Joshua Dennis



Carolyn Kuan headshot

Carolyn Kuan


James Robinson headshot

James Robinson



Allen Moyer

Scenic Designer

James Schuette headshot

James Schuette

Costume Designer

Christopher Akerlind headshot

Christopher Akerlind

Lighting Designer

Greg Emetaz headshot

Greg Emetaz

Projection & Video Designer


Seán Curran


Rick Sordelet headshot

Rick Sordelet

Fight & Intimacy Director

Christian Sordelet headshot

Christian Kelly-Sordelet

Fight & Intimacy Director

Susanne Sheston headshot

Susanne Sheston

Chorus Master

Production Photography


illustration of a main in a prison cell
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