January 27, 2020

Sopranos and tenors take flight in MADAMA BUTTERFLY

Lyric has not one but two romantic pairs in Puccini‘s Madama Butterfly this season! All four artists have enjoyed huge acclaim in the world’s most important opera houses, and Butterfly has been a great success for all of them.

Original Director Michael Grandage’s exquisite production opens with Lyric favorite Ana María Martínez, the Puerto Rican-born soprano who premiered this production at Houston Grand Opera in 2010. She made “a memorable role debut,” the Houston Chronicle reported, “gloriously sung and powerfully acted.” When Ana María returned to this opera at HGO five years later, the Chronicle noted that “as Martínez's vibrant, full-bodied voice welled up again and again, it was more than a feast for the ear. It exuded the emotion and dignity that make Butterfly so captivating.” The New York Times has described her Cio-Cio-San as “a beautiful performance: modest and delicate, yet rising to glimpses of the epic in her final aria of self-sacrifice.”

Ana María’s successes as Butterfly have also included the Metropolitan Opera (where she returns in the role this season), Paris, Vienna, London, Washington, and Los Angeles.

Opposite Ana María as the dashing but faithless Lt. B. F. Pinkerton will be American tenor Brian Jagde, whose portrayal has been hailed in San Francisco, London, Palermo, Washington, and Hamburg. He’s also celebrated internationally for other Puccini works, such as Tosca, Turandot, and Il tabarro. In praising his portrayal, Bachtrack called him “an excellent Pinkerton – the cad par excellence.” For his Covent Garden performance, The Guardian noted that “Pinkerton, too, made an unusually strong impression” for “his resplendent singing, with a real ring to the top of his voice.” 

At Lyric’s March 4 and 7 performances, Armenian soprano Lianna Haroutounian, a specialist in Puccini and Verdi repertoire, will make her eagerly awaited Lyric debut portraying Puccini’s geisha heroine. She’s starred as Butterfly in San Francisco, Seattle, Vienna, Hamburg, and Barcelona. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer called her Cio-Cio-San “heartbreaking….In opera’s arguably greatest tragic female role, Haroutounian was brilliant in voice and acting.” The Seattle Times hailed Lianna for commanding the stage “with an all-out, full-voiced, big-hearted performance that brought out the bravos (and the handkerchiefs). What a singer; what an actress!”

American tenor Brandon Jovanovich, star of our Queen of Spades and Die Walküre this season, returns to the role of Pinkerton as Lianna’s leading man onstage at Lyric. He’s previously sung Pinkerton both in America (Los Angeles, Santa Fe) and Europe (Stuttgart, Toulon). The Orange County Register noted of his Los Angeles performance that he “turned Pinkerton into a memorable scoundrel, relaxed in manner (he doesn’t realize what a heel he is), golden and flowing in voice, commanding the stage without appearing to try. He was a joy to watch.” Read more about Brandon here.

Two superb sopranos and two terrific tenors will make Lyric’s Butterfly soar to the heights!


Puccini lost his heart to his heroine, and so will you, in music of miraculous beauty and aching, deeply poignant dramatic truth.

Lyric production revival of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly generously made possible by

Lauter McDougal Charitable Fund

Sylvia Neil and Daniel Fischel

Randy L. and Melvin R.⁰ Berlin

⁰ deceased

Marion A. Cameron



A coproduction of Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, and Grand Théâtre de Genève.

Photos: Todd Rosenberg

⁰ deceased