M butterfly is david henry hwangs fictionalized account of a real french diplomat who carried on an affair with a chinese opera singer for twenty years only to discover she was actually a man . In a prison on the outskirts of paris rene gallimard is serving a sentence for treason it is 1988 and gallimard introduces himself to his audience as a celebrity a man who is known and laughed about all over the world though he embraces his status as an object of ridicule gallimard . In m butterfly rene gallimardjeremy irons is a minor official at the french embassy in beijing in 1964 as such he is tired of the tedious events on the social circuit until he watches a
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