Three New Sopranos to Take on Title Role of MADAMA BUTTERFLY at the Met, Beg. 1/16

Three New Sopranos to Take on Title Role of MADAMA BUTTERFLY at the Met, Beg. 1/16
A scene from Puccini's MADAMA BUTTERFLY.
Photo by Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera.

Three sopranos will sing their first Met performances of the title role in Puccini's Madama Butterfly at the Met this season.

South African soprano Amanda Echalaz makes her Met debut as Cio-Cio-San on January 16, with Philippe Auguin conducting a cast that also includes Bryan Hymel and Elizabeth DeShong in their company role debuts as Pinkerton and Suzuki and American baritone Scott Hendricks in his Met debut as Sharpless.

Beginning April 4, Kristine Opolais, who made a notable Met debut last season in Puccini's La Rondine, will sing Cio-Cio-San opposite James Valenti as Pinkerton, Maria Zifchak as Suzuki, and Dwayne Croft as Sharpless, with Marco Armiliato conducting.

On May 1, Met Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi will lead his first company performances of Puccini's sweeping tragedy, with a cast that includes Hui He and Gwyn Hughes Jones in Met role debuts as Cio-Cio-San and Pinkerton. Adam Diegel will sing Pinkerton on February 7 and 19.

Amanda Echalaz has sung Cio-Cio-San with Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Bavarian State Opera, and Cape Town Opera. She has sung numerous Puccini heroines, including the title roles in Manon Lescaut (at La Monnaie in Brussels and the Polish National Opera in Warsaw) and in Tosca (at Royal Opera, Covent Garden, English National Opera, Berlin State Opera, and Santa Fe Opera). She sang Tatiana in the premiere of Deborah Warner's production of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin at English National Opera in 2011.

Kristine Opolais made her Met debut last season as Magda in La Rondine. She has sung Cio-Cio-San with the Royal Opera, Covent Garden and Berlin State Opera. Her recent appearances include the title role in Tosca at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden; the title role in Janá?ek's Jen?fa at Zurich Opera; the title role in Dvo?ák's Rusalka at the Bavarian State Opera; and Mimì in Puccini's La Bohème at the Vienna State Opera and the Latvian National Opera. Later this season, she returns to Covent Garden to star in a new production of Manon Lescaut.

Hui He made her Met debut in 2010 in the title role of Verdi's Aida and returned to reprise the role in 2012. She has sung Cio-Cio-San at the Vienna State Opera, Bavarian State Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Gran Teatre del Liceu, Arena di Verona, Palermo's Teatro Massimo, Torino's Teatro Regio, Genoa's Teatro Carlo Felice, Copenhagen Opera, and the Greek National Opera. This season, she also sings the title roles in both Tosca and Ponchielli's La Gioconda at Deutsche Oper Berlin.

Elizabeth DeShong's previous roles at the Met include Hermia in both Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream and the Baroque pastiche The Enchanted Island, the Priestess in Aida, and First Norn in Wagner's Götterdämmerung. Later this season, she will reprise her Hermia in the first Met revival of The Enchanted Island.

Maria Zifchak has sung more than 300 Met performances in 36 roles, most frequently Suzuki, which she has sung 62 times with the company. Her other roles this season were Brian's Mother in the Met premiere of Nico Muhly's Two Boys, a Voice from Above in Strauss's Die Frau ohne Schatten, and Giovanna in Verdi's Rigoletto.

Bryan Hymel made an unexpected Met debut last season as Aeneas in Berlioz's Les Troyens, in a series of performances that included an international Live in HD transmission. He has sung Pinkerton at Canadian Opera Company, English National Opera, New Orleans Opera, and Pittsburgh Opera. Later this season, he will sing the role at the Vienna State Opera. Hymel is the winner of the Met's 2013 Beverly Sills Artist Award.

Adam Diegel sang his first Met performances of Pinkerton in 2012. He made his company debut on opening night of the 2010-11 season, singing Froh in the new production premiere of Wagner's Das Rheingold. In 2011, he returned to the Met to sing Ismaele in Verdi's Nabucco.

James Valenti first came to prominence as a winner of the Met's 2002 National Council Auditions. He returns this season for his first performances since his 2010 company debut as Alfredo in Verdi's La Traviata. He has sung Pinkerton with the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, Paris Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Zurich Opera, Palm Beach Opera, and Detroit Opera.

Gwyn Hughes Jones's previous Met roles include Ismaele in Nabucco, Fenton in Verdi's Falstaff, and, last season, Manrico in Verdi's Il Trovatore. This season, he sang Pinkerton with English National Opera, where his past roles have also included Rodolfo in La Bohème and Cavaradossi in Tosca. He has also sung Pinkerton with the Welsh National Opera.

Scott Hendricks's other engagements in recent seasons have included Scarpia in Tosca at Bavarian State Opera, Stuttgart Opera, Paris Opera, and the Royal Opera, Covent Garden; Amonasro in Verdi's Aida at Canadian Opera Company and Houston Grand Opera; and Francesco in Verdi's I Masnadieri with Washington Concert Opera.

Sharpless is one of 30 roles Dwayne Croft has sung at the Met, where he first performed the role in 1992. Later this season, he will sing his first company performances of Roucher in Giordano's Andrea Chénier. His other performances at the Met have included including Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, and the title roles in Don Giovanni and Britten's Billy Budd.

Philippe Auguin made his Met debut in 2001 conducting the company premiere of Busoni's Doktor Faust. In subsequent seasons, he has led a diverse repertory that includes Strauss's Die Frau ohne Schatten, Wagner's Lohengrin, and Puccini's Tosca and La Bohème. This spring, he leads a Met revival of Strauss's Arabella.

Marco Armiliato has conducted more than 300 performances with the company, including Madama Butterfly in 2001, 2002, 2004, and 2012. He led the company premieres of Wolf-Ferrari's Sly, Alfano's Cyrano de Bergerac, and Donizetti's Anna Bolena. This Met season, he also leads performances of Tosca and a revival of Bellini's La Sonnambula.

Fabio Luisi has been the Met's Principal Conductor since 2011. His past performances with the company have included Puccini's La Bohème, Tosca, and Turandot; Verdi's Aida, Un Ballo in Maschera, Don Carlo, Rigoletto, Simon Boccanegra, and La Traviata; Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen; and the recent new production premieres of Don Giovanni and Massenet's Manon.

The January 16 opening performance of Madama Butterfly will be broadcast live on Metropolitan Opera Radio on SIRIUS XM Channel 74, as will the performances on February 1, April 9, 15, and May 5. The April 9 performance will also be streamed live on the Met's website, www.metopera.org.

The February 1 matinee performance will be broadcast live over the Toll Brothers-Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network.

For more information on this season's performances of Madama Butterfly, visit the Met's website at http://www.metopera.org.