The Butterfly Project
July 26th - 27th, 2023
THE butterfly project
produced by amplified opera
July 26th – 27th
From the opera singer and innovative artist the Toronto Star called “a force of nature,” Teiya Kasahara 笠原貞野 (they/them) presents The Butterfly Project バタフライ・プロジェクト (or, The Ballad of Chōchō-san), an electro-acoustic dreamscape that reimagines Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Joined by exciting new media and sound artist Andrea Wong, Kasahara uses their powerful voice and compelling vision in order to reclaim the Japanese melodies Puccini appropriated, while freeing Butterfly’s long misunderstood heroine, Chōchō-san (蝶々さん), from the confines of the opera’s tragic ending.
The Origin Story
In January 2020 I had the privilege to sing my first ever Cio-Cio San in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra. For many reasons, this was a meaningful and momentous occasion for me professionally and personally. There’s nothing like the swell of an orchestra behind you to take up your voice and let it soar over top, and an orchestra playing the music of the great Giacomo Puccini is like no other. As a Nikkei settler based in Canada, I also can’t help but think critically of this work and of many other works that exist in the operatic canon that have appropriated many cultures and are just plain racist and sexist. Yet, we still produce those works today, oftentimes with no critical lenses or discourse to be had. As one of the most famous operas ever to have been written with one of the most glorious arias, I have found some peace with singing this role (and other appropriated roles) by creating discourse around the work and being able to use my creativity to live in it and continue to engage with it today. In the original Madama Butterfly, Puccini told the story of Cio-Cio San. In my reimagination, Chō-Chō san (蝶々さん) gets to tell her own story and this is the Butterfly Project.
meet the team
Teiya Kasahara 笠原 貞野 – Creator/Performer : Vocals, Piano and Electronics
Nikkei Canadian settler Teiya Kasahara 笠原 貞野 (they/them) is a queer/trans non-binary opera singer and theatre creator based in Tkarón:to (Toronto). Recently featured in the CBC short-doc OPERA TRANS*FORMED, Teiya is a graduate of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio and the University of British Columbia (B.Mus), and the 2022 recipient of the Joseph S. Stauffer Prize in Music (Canada Council for the Arts).
Andrea Wong – Media Artist & Sound Designer
Andrea Wong is an emerging new media artist and sound designer based in Vancouver, Canada. Her musical background stems from classical piano and Canadian folk fiddle. Andrea discovered an interest in sound and technology, and a love for cross-discipline collaboration, during her involvement as a programmer with Sonic UBC Laptop Sounds and Sensors (SUBCLASS) where she worked alongside other musicians and dancers in composing for interactive media art performances