How China’s ‘Butterfly Lovers’ Fluttered Into My Heart – and Mobile Phone

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the beloved Chinese concerto Butterfly Lovers, a composition inspired by the Yue Opera Liang Zhu, often thought of as China’s Romeo and Juliet story, where the world also conspires to separate a couple, with tragic results.

Despite the bittersweet nature of the opera, the concerto Butterfly Lovers soars with such a grandiose, joyful melody that I embraced it after coming to live China – so much so that I later set it as the ringtone on my mobile phone.

The story, which has its roots in Zhejiang province, resonated even more with me when I resided in its capital city of Hangzhou and found myself falling in love with one of its citizens – Jun, the man who would become my future husband.

Guess how I knew he had a thing for me? One day I happened to stroll into his side of the office, and discovered that he happened to set the very same ringtone – Butterfly Lovers – on his own mobile phone. This subtle flirtation, along with so many other sweet gestures from Jun, helped him flutter straight into my own heart. We kept the ringtones unchanged on our mobile phones for a very, very long time too.

In a way, it’s funny that we both saw the Butterfly Lovers as a kind of reflection of a relationship, given the fact that things don’t entirely end well for the couple. Still, what inspired us with the undying devotion the two had for one another – so powerful that the two transformed into butterflies, which allowed them to spend the rest of their days together. There’s something beautiful about a love that transcends even a human existence.

And it’s even more beautiful when you can share that with the person you care most for in the world, in a gorgeous melody.

Have you ever heard the Butterfly Lovers before? Do you consider it a romantic composition?

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10 thoughts on “How China’s ‘Butterfly Lovers’ Fluttered Into My Heart – and Mobile Phone

  • June 18, 2019 at 8:22 pm
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    Butterfly Lovers concerto is haunting. It is one of those things that grips your inner self and holds you captive. I never tire of it. And the love story behind that transcends Romeo n Juliet. R n J looks juvenile by comparison. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tu5XohUR3Pg

    Reply
    • June 21, 2019 at 10:20 am
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      So beautiful! Thanks for the link!

      Reply
    • June 24, 2019 at 10:28 am
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      Thanks for the comment, OM. I never tire of the music either. And the love story is truly epic.

      Reply
    • June 24, 2019 at 10:30 am
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      Thanks for the prompt, OM! Finally got that working this weekend, am now fully secured. 🙂

      Reply
      • June 24, 2019 at 10:48 pm
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        Right, Jocelyn! I can see it! Thank you. Now we can post comments freely without apprehension.

        Reply
  • June 22, 2019 at 2:59 am
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    I have loved Butterfly Lovers for a very long time. While I generally prefer rock and folk music, Butterfly Lovers is one of my top 3 pieces of music. It conjures up, for me, rural scenes of China, past and present. It’s just a great pice of music…period!
    史道德

    Reply
    • June 24, 2019 at 10:33 am
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      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the Butterfly Lovers, Mike! It is a beloved piece of music to many.

      Reply

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