Mai explains: "I am Japanese, which is why I wanted to commission a piece based around Madama Butterfly. I went to the arrangement class at the CNSM and found a student who was interested in helping me realise this! I worked with Arnaud Meier for a year on the music, which is based on the famous aria 'Un bel di, vedremo', as well as some other melodies. To bring the feeling of the original opera even closer, Arnaud incorporated an optional soprano part. The Fantasie, which is about six minutes long, remains principally a harp solo. It begins with a solo introduction, followed by a section with the singer (but where the harp doubles the soprano line, so it is also possible to play entirely as a harp solo), before a virtuoso harp solo section, again a duo, and a harp solo to finish. Arnaud took both musical and technical inspiration from the classic harp opera fantasies of Parish-Alvars and Walter-Kühne, as befits Puccini's original music from the same period.
Minjung Woo's Fantasie has its roots in the opera Minjung composed for her final composition exam (Prix) at the CNSMDP. In each of the scenes of her opera, there are different styles of music: contemporary, jazz, traditional Korean song, etc. On hearing the opera, Mai had been particularly taken with a jazz scene that happens when the lady of the opera's inevitable love triangle goes to find an alternative to her husband in a bar. "I thought it would be great to have an opera fantasy for the blue harp incorporating this jazz music, because the blue harp is used so much for jazz. The blue harp was new to both Minjung and myself, and we also worked very hard on the mixing desk, to draw out as many possibilities as we could. You could perform this piece without the mixing desk, but of course you would lose some of the special effects.
The last part of this Fantasie is also interesting because it involves oriental-style music mixed with contemporary music.
The original opera has a lot of percussion, so I also asked for percussion to be included in the harp Fantasie, in the style of Murray-Schäffer's The Crown of Ariadne. So it is a piece for blue harp and percussion!"