This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
February 17 is the 48th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 317 days remaining until the end of the year (318 in leap years).
On this day in 1904, Giacomo Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly premieres at the La Scala theatre in Milan, Italy.
The young Puccini decided to dedicate his life to opera after seeing a performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida in 1876. In his later life, he would write some of the best-loved operas of all time: La Boheme (1896), Tosca (1900), Madame Butterfly (1904) and Turandot (left unfinished when he died in 1906). Not one of these, however, was an immediate success when it opened. La Boheme, the now-classic story of a group of poor artists living in a Paris garret, earned mixed reviews, while Tosca was downright panned by critics.
Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly) is an opera in three acts (originally two acts) by Giacomo Puccini, with an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. Puccini based his opera in part on the short story “Madame Butterfly” (1898) by John Luther Long, which was dramatized by David Belasco. Puccini also based it on the novel Madame Chrysantheme (1887) by Pierre Loti. According to one scholar, the opera was based on events that actually occurred in Nagasaki in the early 1890s.
The original version of the opera, in two acts, had its premiere on February 17, 1904, at La Scala in Milan. It was very poorly received despite the presence of such notable singers as soprano Rosina Storchio, tenor Giovanni Zenatello and baritone Giuseppe De Luca in the lead roles. This was due in large part to the late completion and inadequate time for rehearsals. Puccini revised the opera, splitting the second act into two acts and making other changes. On May 28, 1904, this version was performed in Brescia and was a huge success.
The opera is set in the city of Nagasaki. Japan’s best-known opera singer Tamaki Miura won international fame for her performances as Cio-Cio San; her statue, along with that of Puccini, can be found in Nagasaki’s Glover Garden.
Butterfly is a staple of the standard operatic repertoire for companies around the world and it is the most-performed opera in the United States, where it ranks as Number 1 in Opera America’s list of the 20 most-performed operas in North America.
1370 – Northern Crusades: Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Teutonic Knights meet in the Battle of Rudau.
1500 – Duke Friedrich and Duke Johann attempt to subdue the peasantry of Dithmarschen, Denmark, in the Battle of Hemmingstedt.
1600 – The philosopher Giordano Bruno is burned alive at Campo de’ Fiori in Rome for heresy.
1621 – Myles Standish is appointed as first commander of Plymouth colony.
1753 – In Sweden February 17 is followed by March 1 as the country moves from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar.
1801 – An electoral tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr is resolved when Jefferson is elected President of the United States and Burr Vice President by the United States House of Representatives.
1809 – Miami University is chartered by the State of Ohio.
1814 – War of the Sixth Coalition: The Battle of Mormans.
1819 – The United States House of Representatives passes the Missouri Compromise for the first time.
1838 – Weenen massacre: Hundreds of Voortrekkers along the Blaukraans River, Natal are killed by Zulus.
1854 – The United Kingdom recognizes the independence of the Orange Free State.
1864 – American Civil War: The H. L. Hunley becomes the first submarine to engage and sink a warship, the USS Housatonic.
1865 – American Civil War: Columbia, South Carolina, is burned as Confederate forces flee from advancing Union forces.
1871 – The victorious Prussian Army parades though Paris, France after the end of the Siege of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War.
1904 – Madama Butterfly receives its premiere at La Scala in Milan.
1913 – The Armory Show opens in New York City, displaying works of artists who are to become some of the most influential painters of the early 20th century.
1924 – In Miami, Florida, Johnny Weissmuller sets a new world record in the 100 meters freestyle swimming competition with a time of 57.4 seconds.
1933 – Newsweek magazine is published for the first time.
1933 – The Blaine Act ends Prohibition in the United States.
1944 – World War II: The Battle of Eniwetok Atoll begins. The battle ends in an American victory on February 22.
1944 – World War II: Operation Hailstone begins. U.S. naval air, surface, and submarine attack against Truk (Chuuk), Japan’s main base in the central Pacific, in support of the Eniwetok invasion.
1959 – Project Vanguard: Vanguard 2 – The first weather satellite is launched to measure cloud-cover distribution.
1964 – In Wesberry v. Sanders the Supreme Court of the United States rules that congressional districts have to be approximately equal in population.
1964 – Gabonese president Leon M’ba is toppled by a coup and his rival, Jean-Hilaire Aubame, is installed in his place.
1965 – Project Ranger: The Ranger 8 probe launches on its mission to photograph the Mare Tranquillitatis region of the Moon in preparation for the manned Apollo missions. Mare Tranquillitatis or the “Sea of Tranquility” would become the site chosen for the Apollo 11 lunar landing.
1968 – In Springfield, Massachusetts, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame opens.
1972 – Sales of the Volkswagen Beetle exceed those of the Ford Model-T.
1974 – Robert K. Preston, a disgruntled U.S. Army private, buzzes the White House in a stolen helicopter.
1978 – The Troubles: The Provisional IRA detonates an incendiary bomb at the La Mon restaurant, near Belfast, killing 12 and seriously injuring 30.
1979 – The Sino-Vietnamese War begins.
1995 – The Cenepa War between Peru and Ecuador ends on a cease-fire brokered by the UN.
1996 – In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, world champion Garry Kasparov beats the Deep Blue supercomputer in a chess match.
1996 – NASA’s Discovery Program begins as the NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft lifts off on the first mission ever to orbit and land on an asteroid, 433 Eros.
1998 – Nagorno-Karabakh War: Armenian troops kill 70-90 Azerbaijani civilians in the village of Qaradagli.
2003 – The London Congestion Charge scheme begins.
2006 – A massive mudslide occurs in Southern Leyte, Philippines; the official death toll is set at 1,126.
2008 – Kosovo declares independence.
* Christian Feast Day: