Publication Date

April 2015


Elizabeth Traube




English (United States)


This senior essay explores the social dynamics of taste through a critical examination of Giacomo Puccini’s opera classic Madama Butterfly, as well as the author’s introduction to music informally, through participation in karaoke and formally, through training in classical singing. The author engages the social theories of Bourdieu through the lens of her personal experiences growing up as a first generation Filipino and Irish female navigating a social world of music with implications for class, both culturally and economically. Weaving this autobiography with Bourdieu and the social history of opera in the United States, the essay unpacks the forces behind the current immunity of opera to widespread social critique, ultimately leaving the reader with a sense of the hidden race and gender dynamics of Madama Butterfly as an opera, and the class dynamics of opera as a “high” art form sequestered in a world of selective consumption.



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