Madama Butterfly, the memoirs of a geisha

What a way to end the season. Vancouver Opera’s take on Puccini’s classic Madama Butterfly is beautiful and brilliant, not to mention, brightly coloured. And I was there to blog all about it (nerd alert!).


Before taking our seats, opera bloggers John, Gus, Stacey and I had a backstage tour. We weren’t allowed to touch (or twirl) these parasols, but let me tell ya — what looks like simple corrugated plastic backstage makes for dramatic props on stage.


And I loved every psychedelic-shaped, primary-coloured inch of it. (Photo by Tim Matheson.)


Looking like the set of a sixties game show (can’t you just envision it filled with dancers doing the Austin Powers?), the stage’s swirls have been known to cause vertigo in those sitting in the balcony.

But we were sitting front row, centre. (Surtitles be darned — sitting that close means you can see the singers’ throats quiver).

This visual spectacle is the work of set and costume-designer Jun Kaneko, a Japanese-born sculptor at the forefront of the contemporary ceramics movement. (Thanks, Vancouver Opera, for the photo.)


So what’s the story? A beautiful fifteen-year-old geisha falls in love with an American sailor and sacrifices everything for him — her family, her friends, her religion, you name it. He marries her, but then leaves to return to the States, (didn’t her mother warn her about guys like that?) and she gives birth to his ridiculously adorable child.

Three years later, he returns to Japan to take their son to the States, leaving Madama Butterfly behind. She is in such despair, she… well, I won’t ruin it for you. (Manga by Roy Husada.)


Coincidentally I wore a sixties dress, but less mod and more Aud(rey). And that means it’s official: I have not worn a single dress from this millennium to the opera this season.


First, there was the eighties number with the crinoline, then there was the eighties number with the shoulders, then there was the fifties wedding dress and now this. Plus, last season, I rocked this significantly shorter sixties dress.


Even though this is the end of the opera season, my friends, there are still five performances of Madama Butterfly if you want to get in on it.

P.S. Make like a social butterfly and add me on Facebook.

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  • Reply Melissa May 30, 2010 at 10:49 am

    I love this dress on you! Probably one of my favourites you’ve worn.
    I’m also now very intriqued by this opera. Very tempted to go!

  • Reply Tweets that mention Madama Butterfly, the memoirs of a geisha | The Anthology -- May 30, 2010 at 10:53 am

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kelsey Dundon, Melissa K. Melissa K said: You looked stunning! @TheAnthology It's official: I haven't worn a dress from this millennium to the opera all season […]

  • Reply quelle May 30, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    what a beautiful dress <3

  • Reply Opening Night for Madama Butterfly | May 30, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    […] from Norma’s with its vertigo inducing lines and bold shapes and colours. On the tour, Kelsey suggested that it could easily be used as a set for a 60’s game […]

  • Reply Madama Butterfly, the memoirs of a geisha | The Anthology » Anthology, Butterfly, Madama, More, Plus » Season Style May 30, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    […] here: Madama Butterfly, the memoirs of the geisha | The Anthology Share and […]

  • Reply Larissa May 30, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    I deserve props for this dress too!!

  • Reply liv May 30, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    oh wow. that dress is glamour to the max. in any era.

    do tell what is that necklace you’re wearing?

    I kept seeing the Madama Butterfly ads around town not having a clue what it was about. Thanks for the synopsis.

  • Reply nadia May 30, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    wow ! you look statuesque in that dress. its precious

  • Reply Rachael May 30, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    That dress is gorgeous, definitely has “opera” written all over it!

    Rachael Krystina at

  • Reply a stylized hysteria May 31, 2010 at 5:18 am

    What a gorgeous dress! Absolutely breathtaking!

  • Reply Fee-AMore May 31, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Check that shape out! You looked fab Kelsey!

  • Reply erin May 31, 2010 at 10:26 am

    what a beautiful dress! you look SO tall!

  • Reply Anya May 31, 2010 at 10:33 am

    Yes, very Audrey. Where do you find these amazing things?

  • Reply hauteworld May 31, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Oooh, this dress looks so stunning on you! Love the silhouette! Madame Butterfly is such a great tale. I’ve never seen the opera version, only read the book and short story it’s based on. Those parasols are fab though!

  • Reply lisa May 31, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    Gorgeous dress. Audrey would be proud. :)

  • Reply Ling June 1, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Hi Kelsey,

    Thanks so much for being a part of our blogger squad during our Golden Anniversary.

    I love all your outfits that you wore to the opera! You make elegance look easy.

    Hope to see you next season!


  • Reply The Starving Stylist June 1, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    awww! look at you all dolled up and gorgeous in that dress! You look beautiful Kelsey!

    p.s. not sure if your into it but are you going to see the Lion King when it comes into town? I’m debating about it. . . .hmmmm

  • Reply Teresa June 1, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    what a beautiful regal looking dress.

    I think I’ve seen at least 4-5 versions of Madame Butterfly..
    – the made for tv drama/opera
    – Jeremy Irons M Butterfly..the most saddest one
    – the book itself
    – and I think a 1960s movie version

  • Reply maximilian June 2, 2010 at 12:43 am

    timeless & stunning dress! it fits you like a glove! xo

  • Reply Clarity June 2, 2010 at 5:49 am

    Dear Kelsey,

    Thank you for your touching comment which seems so long ago. Break was taken.

    I want that dress, it upstages the production you just posted about and so well photographed.

    As for M. Butterfly, never watched it but a friend who comes from “Butterfly’s” world disliked the story because it put Butterfly in poor light, made me smile but I understood.

  • Reply VancityAllie June 7, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    That dress looks amazing… so unique.. I don’t know anyone who would be able to pull something like that off, except for you. :P

  • Reply Ida June 15, 2010 at 11:36 am

    One of my favorite operas of all time!! Glad you enjoyed it!

  • Reply It really is the most wonderful time of the year | The Anthology December 13, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    […] one is vintage — sixties maybe? I wore it to the opera last year. And I’m still so, so glad I didn’t have this bad boy hemmed. (That would […]

  • Reply Madama Butterfly: Final Thoughts | Vancouver Opera Blog May 10, 2014 at 10:50 am

    […] What a way to end the season. Vancouver Opera’s take on Puccini’s classic Madama Butterfly is beautiful and brilliant, not to mention, brightly coloured. – Kelsey Dundon […]

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