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Puccini's Madama Butterfly



Carmen The cast was sweet and wonderful and Hilda was brilliant! The little boy we chose was terrific and we heard AMAZING feedback from the audience. BRAVO!!!!

This was an excellent company and very kind and considerate too. It’s so wonderful to work with nice people.

Not everyone is as nice or as accommodating as you are. Once again, we had a great time on Sunday and the cast (and orchestra) was outstanding.

Susan Agin, Managing and Artistic Director
Queensborough Performing Arts Center
Performance Sunday, October 17, 2010

The audience was very enthusiastic!

It was a wonderful performance, and everyone loved it. Hilda was brilliant, and she was so sweet with my little grandson. Hilda was flawless and Pinkerton stole my heart. Thank you for sending us such a great production. All the best,

Lillian Harder, Brooks Center for the Perf. Arts
Clemson University
Performance Tuesday, October 19

The opera (MADAMA BUTTERFLY) was terrific and Cio Cio San was fabulous.

The Pinkerton was adorable. Who is he? Very handsome guy! Your company got a very long, standing ovation. The orchestra was great. I was sitting only four rows back on the right. I enjoyed that enormously. I'm a snob about seating at opera ;-)

Toby Bronstein, patron
Performance at Keenan Auditorium, Wilmington, NC
Performance Wednesday, October 20, 2010

We are thrilled by last night! (MADAMA BUTTERFLY)

The soprano was so strong and beautiful. Pinkerton’s voice was beautiful. The audience loved the opera and we are competing with the MET simulcasts at the same university…

June Davis, Keenan Auditorium
Wilmington, NC
October 20, 2010 performance

BRAVO! It was a wonderful production of Madama Butterfly.

The set was well done and the lighting dramatized the changing seasons, transcending the audience to Madama Butterfly's small house in Japan. In general, the principals were tremendous and I had a few opera aficionados seek me out to mention that they enjoyed the main characters immensely…and the applause was loud! The orchestra played well. There are some wonderful melodies throughout the performance and they really did a good job. The one that comes to mind is the music between the transition in Act 2, during the vigil.

Your group did a wonderful job with our second grader that was playing Sorrow. He was very nervous but a cute addition to the evening.

Regards, Christine Parent, President, Board of Directors, Opera NH
October 2010

The opera (MADAMA BUTTERFLY) was wonderful

Your Butterfly (who John and I love) gave me chills the minute she started singing. I think that it was the longest standing ovation I have ever witnessed at one of our operas! Can't wait to see one of my top 3 favorites- Turandot!

Richard Bojko, Former President, BOD
Opera New Hampshire
October 2010

The opera was fantastic!

Patrons were raving about how wonderful Madama Butterfly was. A long time opera patron wants to start a “Friends of the Opera.”We also had 38 students from the Middle School across the street from the theatre and they loved… loved… loved it! A lovely evening was had by all.
Thank you!

Jeanne Sigel, Development & Marketing Director
Garde Arts Center, New London, CT
October 2010

Teatro Lirico D'Europa's MADAMA BUTTERFLY received a deserved standing ovation at the Garde Arts Center, New London, CT last night.

Artistic Director Giorgio Lalov scored another triumph with smooth stage direction showing character and motivation very well, excellent costume design with beautiful, colorful kimonos, and set design with a an effective screened house—all credited to Lalov. The vocal star, appropriately, was Elena Razgylaeva a TLE soloist since 2006, in the title role. Her pure, beautiful voice, a bit more lirico than spinto, handled every note perfectly, with excellent phrasing. She movingly portrayed Butterfly's hope in a lovely and exciting “Un bel di',” her relations with Sharpless and Yamadori in Act II, and her tragic determination at the end. She was so physically gorgeous that one faulted Pinkerton for choosing Veselina Ponorska's rather hefty Kate as well as for his abandonment. She almost looked 15 years old in the first act, and for that but especially for voice and acting, Razgylaeva was just about the best Buttefly I've heard and seen. Viara Zhelezova also sang Suzuki with a clear, strong voice and gave a fine sense of Suzuki's combination of strong support and vulnerability. Orlin Goranov sang well enough as Pinkerton, with some fine high notes. TLE regular Hristo Sarafov sang Yamadori strongly and looked aptly older. Plamen Dimitrov was a rich-voiced, well-acted Sharpless. The local girl En-Hua C. Holtz, of Chinese descent, looked perfect as Dolore, smiled appealingly throughout, and related to the other characters very well. This was her first public performance TLE's staple conductor Krassimir Topolov led a well-coordinated performance with good sound from the TLE orchestra. I recommend this BUTTERFLY, which will travel to other cities.

John Deredita, OPERA MUSIC BROADCAST.COM – October 2010


Puccini's opera "Madame Butterfly" was performed in front of a sold-out audience at the Touhill Performing Arts Center on Saturday night by Teatro Lirico d'Europa, a European opera touring company formed in 1988 by Giorgio Lalov. The company is scheduled to make 80 performances of opera this season in the U.S. The backdrop of the piece was contemporary Japan. The songs, lighting, characters, plot and musical accompaniment intermingle to keep the audience on the edge of their seats waiting to know what will happen to poor Cio-cio-san. After the first act is finished, Cio-cio-san has officially been married for many years and is living with her child Sorrow, played by Christian Lalov. Pinkerton has been away and everyone is awaiting his return. This is where Cio-cio-san (soprano, Victoria Litherland) commands the stage and reveals the many emotions of a woman who is torn between truth and lies, reality and fantasy, love and death. She sings about living in disgrace or ending the pain with death. She also sings in hopes of Pinkerton's return and how she cannot wait to see her husband. Her deliveries of these dichotomy-like emotions are extreme, yet accurate. They truly conveyed the feelings of a person torn between optimism and pessimism. She eventually commits suicide upon the return of her husband, who has married back in the Americas. Mrs. Pinkerton, played by Vesselina Ponorska, accompanies Pinkerton back to his home in Japan. All of Cio-cio-san's fears come to the surface and she kills herself after running everyone off so she can be alone. The opera ended to standing ovations as the audience was moved by this stellar performance.

Myron McNeill — THE CURRENT, St. Louis, MO – Nov. 2006

MADAMA BUTTERFLY - St. George, Utah – Oct. 2006

Hi Jenny -- Madama Butterfly opened our season this year and what an opening! We had a full house both nights and the audience couldn't seem to get enough of them. I've gotten so many compliments on their terrific performance, what a way to begin the season, huh? I'm still floating. Victoria was outstanding! Not only is she a superb soprano and a good actress, she is also kind and accommodating. Both she and Giorgio attended the luncheon yesterday and those in attendance loved them! It was because of Victoria that our little three - year old was able to do so well on stage. The child's mother said that she was not afraid of going on stage because of the loving way Victoria treated her. And, speaking of Giorgio, he is fantastic. Over the 21 years I've been doing this, there are some managers who are difficult and disagreeable and it creates a situation where I won't book an artist on a return engagement (no matter how good) because of the manager or tour director. BUT you couldn't get better than Giorgio. He is very professional and seems to work without a stressful ruffle. He does an outstanding job. There weren't any problems. It seemed to go off without a hitch. After the concert last night I didn't get back stage to thank them. Would you please convey my deepest gratitude to all of them and especially Victoria and Giorgio? Thank you too, Jenny, for all you do to make this a success. We all profit from it. I look forward to next season.

Gail Bunker · Celebrity Concert Series · Cox Perf. Arts Center, St. George, Utah

Teatro Lirico Singer Flutters through BUTTERFLY!

A heartbreaking Cio-Cio-San. That's exactly what Teatro Lirico D'Europa offered in Qilian Chen who sang the title role. With her radiant smile and demeanor, Chen easily evoked the idealistic, trusting 15 - year old geisha who marries the cad Pinkerton. Chen was up to revealing the levels of tragedy. She went the marathon distance with strength and dignity and with subtle and affecting phrasing. She carried the opera to its triumphant conclusion.

LOS ANGELES TIMES · Pasles · Feb. 2002


Teatro Lirico D'Europa tours with a 50-piece orchestra and 40-voice chorus plus all the sets and costumes necessary to present grand opera in a stylish, very European way. The success of 'Madama Butterfly' rises and falls with the title role. Soprano, Su-Jin Lee did not disappoint, offering as dramatic a rendering of Cio-cio-san as might be imagined with her seamless, powerful voice and suavely elegant acting style. Roumen Doikov's sharply focused tenor voice allowed his singing to project above the orchestra's commanding presence. Nicolai Dobrev's Sharpless was a musical triumph. Elena Marinova portrayed the role of Suzuki with grace and beauty, blending magnificently with Su-Jin Lee. The solid performances of the orchestra along with compelling performances in all the supporting roles gave this production a musical polish that would grace any stage in the world.

THE TRIBUNE (San Luis Obispo, CA) · Alan Boehmer · Feb. 2002

Madama BUTTERFLY at Stanley's

Su-Jin Lee as the ill-fated Cio-cio-san sang the role of the teen lover with stunning voice and astute dramatics. Lee used her high lyric soprano to etch the sorrowful wails of an unfortunate love. Besides her gripping vocals, Lee also captured the soul of the girl and the roller coaster of emotions in her every gesture. The audience gave the cast a rousing reception at the finale.

UTICA DISPATCH OBSERVER · Jonas Kovan · Feb. 2003

A Magnificent Madama BUTTERFLY

Su-Jin Lee was most convincing as Cio-cio-san. It's rare to see such fine acting ability, combined with magnificent vocal cords. Act II, perhaps had the finest singing, notably "Un bel di vedremo" and the flower duet with Elena Marinova as Suzuki, who captured the emotions of every moment before her mistress experienced them. Lee rose above the pack. The suicide scene was heart-rending. The opera was well produced, as indicated by the attention and extraordinary quiet of the audience. Sets were simple yet effective, lighting was extremely well done; costumes were attractive and reflected the period Puccini intended. The orchestra deserves high praise for its sound and conductor Krassimir Topolov did a superb job. Roumen Doikov as Pinkerton and Nicolai Dobrev as Sharpless sang very well. The chorus sounded great. This is a first class organization. Let's hope for a return.

THE STAR · Chicago Heights · D. J. Luksetich · Mar. 2003

Lirico's BUTTERFLY: All Things Bright and Beautiful!

It's not often that Boston - or any town- hears a BUTTERFLY on the order of Korean soprano - Su-Jin Lee: her voice was almost too big for Jordan Hall, but it remained full and rich at the top, the aural equivalent of a room full of cherry blossoms. She also has the most radiant smile. Her characterization was superb. Mexican tenor, Gabrielle Gonzales, brought a rich voice and stock-but sensitive characterization to Pinkerton. Ted Lambrinos was more nuanced as Sharpless, whose face registered increasing shades of dismay as Pinkerton contemplated the joys of "Japanese marriage." The chorus sang sumptuously and the orchestra gave Puccini's score both physical and emotional weight.

BOSTON PHOENIX - Jeffrey Gantz - Mar. 2003

Heroine Gives Wings to Touring BUTTERFLY!

Korean soprano Su-Jin Lee was the compelling focus of the action Saturday night as Teatro Lirico D'Europa brought its BUTTERFLY to the Kravis Center. Lee was a persuasive Cio-cio-san, gifted with a strong, rather dark voice, that held up well throughout the evening and that ably covered the gamut from awakening passion to bleak despair. Just as comprehensive was her acting range. She inhabits the part completely. Italian tenor, Maurizio Graziani, was a good Pinkerton with a pleasing, soft edged lyric tenor that blended suavely with Lee in the big love duet that closes Act I. There was fine singing also from the American baritone Theodore Lambrinos as Sharpless, and Elena Marinova, as Suzuki, who was at her best in the Act II flower Duet. Teatro Lirico's orchestra acquitted itself well and conductor Krassimir Topolov proved to be a sensitive accompanist. A 'Butterfly' well worth seeing, especially for its lead soprano, whose Cio-cio-san came through much as Puccini would have liked, as a real flesh and blood person with whom the audience can deeply empathize.

PALM BEACH POST · Greg Stepanich · Nov. 2003

In search of the perfect Butterfly, we found her.

This "Butterfly" wows Boston audience with a stunning performance that is the essence of pure vocal and visual artistry. “It gives me chills when done right, and I got that chill Sunday afternoon - still do as I write this review. It's the romantic in me. Puccini's opera "Madama Butterfly" wowed its Boston audience with a stunning performance by soprano Olga Chernisheva in the title role of Cio-cio-san when it played to a packed house at the Cutler Majestic on March 4, 2007. Too bad there was only one performance. Ms. Chernisheva gave a performance that was simply spectacular. Her romantic "Vogliatemi bene" with amazing tenor Orlin Goranov, who also sang the part of Rodolfo in Friday's "Boheme," is all the more reason to be amazed. This is what brings people to the opera, and if the buzz at intermission is any indication of whether the sentiments expressed herein are representative of the vast majority of the audience in attendance on Sunday, this performance would have to be rated one of the best in quite a while. Ms. Chernisheva is a fit, youthful looking and very attractive Butterfly -- not 15, but as one member of the audience remarked, "It's nice not to have to see an overweight sixty year old trying to sing the role." Well said. Another member of the audience who plays with the Boston Symphony remarked how impressed he was with the stamina of the orchestra and singers who, he too, saw on the same stage Friday evening. As for Mr. Goranov's performance, we can only add, Bravo! His performance as B.F. Pinkerton was crisp, his voice clear and strong throughout, and his stage presence was commanding, as was the vocal and physical performance of baritone Gary Simpson, who sang the role of U.S. Consul in Nagasaki, Mr. Sharpless. Mr. Simpson has a clear nicely-tune mid-range baritone that announces itself without being overbearing. In a role that requires the Consul to be patient and empathetic, vocal control in a strong baritone is a must, and Mr. Simpson, sang the part to perfection, showing both strength and empathy for his character. Singing the role of Suzuki, the maid to Butterfly, was Bulgarian mezzo-soprano Viara Zhelezova, another Teatro cast regular and entirely dependable vocal talent in this remarkable and busy traveling ensemble of talents. Two other worthy performances that must be mentioned here are: Giorgio Dinef, who sang the marriage broker, Goro in a wonderfully animated and natural manner; and bass Vladimir Hristov, who sang the role of The Bonze, a Buddhist priest and Butterfly's uncle, which he sang and played regally. Well done! A "tip-of-the hat" also must go to the chorus. In Butterfly, I always await the procession song, "Ecco, Son giunte al sommo del pendio," which has to be one of the most beautiful precession songs in all of opera. Here it was done to perfection, with a wonderful display of color and superb vocal beauty. In this production, the scenery by Valentin Topencharo, was colorful and realistic and the lighting by Gueorgui Bojukliev was effective and imaginative. Nicely done on both counts. I was moved by this production as was the audience and fully involved in the life of this remarkable Butterfly, which says a lot. Brava Ms. Chernisheva.

OPERAONLINE.US · Paul Walkowski · Mar. 2007

NOTE FROM ADMINISTRATION – Majestic Theatre, Boston – Mar. 2007

We really had a very positive response from patrons. One man came up to the window and said that Saturday night was the most expressive version of Carmen he'd ever seen. Another woman came to all four performances and said she'd had a great weekend. People leaving last night were commenting on what a wonderful evening the concert provided. I had a couple of patrons tell me they were planning to drop their other opera subscription and subscribe to Teatro Lirico because the other company did Butterfly as well and thought yours was better in every aspect. Congratulations!

Christina Harrington · Cutler Majestic Theatre at Emerson College, Boston, MA


The Teatro Lirico D'Europa production of "Madama Butterfly" at Merrill Auditorium Wednesday night successfully emphasized the emotional aspects of what is already a tear-jerker of an opera, to the extent that Orlin Goranov, who played Lieutenant Pinkerton, got a few boos (for the role, not his excellent performance) during the standing ovation that followed. The large audience was absorbed in the tragic story, as well as Puccini's lovely and sometimes authentically Japanese music. Actually, baritone Gary Simpson, who plays the sympathetic U.S. Consul Sharpless, half in love with Cio-cio-san (Madame Butterfly) himself, seemed to receive even louder applause than the rotten Pinkerton. Artistic and stage director Giorgio Lalov makes Sharpless even more lovable than he usually is, implying, for example, that the consul is paying Cio-cio-san's rent after her desertion by Pinkerton. In the opening scene, Pinkerton is all in white, while Sharpless, who tries to warn him about trifling with Madame Butterfly's affections, is in black. By the end of the opera, Pinkerton is in his dress blues, darker than Sharpless' suit. The opera was well sung and acted throughout, especially by Olga Chernisheva in the demanding role of Cio-cio-san, in which she hardly ever leaves the stage after her first appearance with the wedding party. As staged, the running together of the second and third acts, without intermission, made the opera seem a bit too long, especially at the heightened state of emotion it generates. The audience needs at least a slight break to get dry handkerchiefs. There is some comic relief, in the antics of the marriage broker Goro (Giorgio Dinef) and the hapless suitor Prince Yamadori (Hristo Sarafov), who manages to convey moral deformity by the physical curling up of his fingers. For the lovers of orchestral music in the audience, Puccini has a great deal of fun with the American national anthem, which appears at appropriate and inappropriate moments throughout the opera. He also endeavors to imitate Japanese musical forms and, I believe, even the bamboo flute known as the Shukahachi. The live Sofia Symphony Orchestra, under Krassimir Topolov, played the score sensitively and with understanding. The sets and costumes were also well done, especially for a road show. The paper house and garden overlooking the bay are settings where one can actually imagine living happily ever after. And the super-titles were both well written and understated.

Christopher Hyde – Portland Press Herald – Mar. 2007

Madama Butterfly - Teatro Lirico d’Europa - Cutler Majestic Theatre, Boston

Teatro Lirico D'Europa brought "Butterfly" to the Cutler Majestic Theatre on Friday in a traditional production that combined its wonderful, big-voiced singers who made the most of Puccini's soaring melodies and shrewd sense of dramatic pacing. The big moments never failed to hit their mark. I heard the first sniffles, as I usually do, when Cio-Cio-San rushes offstage and brings out, for the first time, her half-American child. In the title role, Russian-born soprano Olga Chernisheva looked beautiful, and moved gracefully. She had plenty of volume, and topped her entrance with a soft, easy C-sharp. She was dignified and strong in her final moments. As Pinkerton, Bulgarian tenor Orlin Goranov was vocally splendid. He cleaved the house with his high notes, and yet was capable of beautiful soft singing, too. The smaller roles were well sung, especially Viara Zhelezova's warm-voiced Suzuki.

David Perkins · BOSTON GLOBE · Oct. 2007

Note from Executive Director – Jacksonville, FL about BUTTERFLY – Nov. 2007

The Soprano was wonderful – what a voice and she was also a great actress. Standing ovation. I thought all of the principals were excellent. She was also wonderful with the child! We all tend to forget how intimidating being on the stage can be for a child, but Ms. Esperian took the child in her arms when introduced and held her. Obviously she knew just what to do to put the child at ease. Georgio also did another wonderful presentation – maybe one of the best yet! Thanks Again!!

Milton A. Russos · Executive Director · FCCJ Artist Series · Jacksonville, FL

Note from GM of Newberry Opera House, SC about BUTTERFLY - Jan. 2008

It was wonderful, thank you so much. Your folks were fantastic and the crew very easy to work with and very professional. Butterfly herself was just gorgeous, a lovely voice- nothing but great comments form the audience! Please come back next year.

Deborah Smith, GM · Newberry Opera House, Newberry, SC

BUTTERFLY in Clearwater, FL – Jan. 2008

What a night!!!!!! Thank you and Giorgio so much. Performance was wonderful. Orchestra. Singers. Set design. We did 1460. Thanks again. Talk to you soon!


Gold Coast Opera: Madama Butterfly, a review

In recent seasons Gold Coast Opera has formed a working relationship with Teatro Lirico D’Europa. On February 19 Cavendish led Puccini's Madama Butterfly at the Coral Springs Center for the Arts. A strongly cast, intelligently conceived production offered a compelling evening of Music Theater. Teatro Lirico founder Giorgio Lalov's direction was straightforward, moving the drama toward its final inevitable tragedy with a minimum of artifice. Valentin Topencharov' set emphasized simple, clean lines that suggested a garden and hilly path next to the heroine' s house. His multi-hued costumes filled the stage with color, an eye catching wedding gown rich in blends of white and yellow pastels. Elena Razgylaeva embodied the heroine Cio-Cio-San Her gleaming lyrico-spinto soprano is effortlessly produced. Cio-Cio-San' s treacherously difficult entrance aria was capped by a fearless high C. A consummate singing actress, Razgylaeva turned Un bel di into a dramatic declaration of faith rather than mere vocal display. Her agitated death scene proved a final musico-dramatic tour de force. Razgylaeva encompassed the heroine's emotional spectrum in a radiant vocal palette that could ring out in fury and rhapsodize in romantic ecstasy.

Lawrence Budmen · South Florida Sun-Sentinel · Feb. 2008


Madama Butterfly” was the first opera I ever saw. I was 11 years. Five Butterflies later, an outstanding production will send me out of the theater muttering the same thing. So the Teatro Lirico d’Europa performance at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts Monday night earned my highest praise. “Madama Butterfly” ranks on Opera America’s list as the all-time most performed operas here.

The dew points in “Madama Butterfly” are as plentiful as its musical zeniths. Teatro’s artistic director, Giorgio Lalov, has wisely cast it with acting as well as vocal strength. Foremost is Olga Chernisheva, a Cio-Cio-San of vast range. Chernisheva develops Butterfly skillfully from blushing 15-year-old — a coy bride in denial that she is rented — to a resolute matriarch, determined to keep her loyalty, and in the end, her honor.

There are few moments when Chernisheva isn’t on stage and singing, yet she is the heroine to the end. She refuses to showboat (Brava, Butterfly!) on the famous “Un bel di (One fine day).” She harmonizes as beautifully with Suzuki in their “Flower Duet” as she does on her wedding night with Pinkerton in a thrilling “Viene la sera (Evening is falling).”

Orlin Goranov is her vocal match as the shallow Lt. B.F. Pinkerton, who rents his wife as facilely as he rents their wedding home. Goranov’s tenor is astoundingly melodic, powerful and emotional. H

Plamen Dimitrov made his debut as Sharpless, the emasculated American consul, and he has a good feel for his role and a warm baritone voice. The background star of the production is Viara Zhelezova — a strong, supportive mezzo who played the loyal Suzuki with blend of ferocity and wisdom. Vladimir Hristov worked a trio of supporting roles, including that of the oily marriage broker, with relish.

The Naples Philharmonic is developing a potential second career as opera orchestra, sparkling in its performance Monday under Joe Mechavic who has complete command of the synergy between orchestra and singer. It was wonderful. It was awful. I never want to see it again.

NAPLES DAILY NEWS – Harriet Heithaus – Mar. 2008

Pucinni's TURANDOT
Puccini's LA BOHEME
Puccini's Madama BUTTERFLY
Puccini's TOSCA
Bizet's CARMEN

G. Verdi's AIDA
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