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January 2014
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Backstage Exclusive: Patricia Racette as Butterfly

Patricia Racette as Madama Butterfly

Patricia Racette as Madama Butterfly

It’s Friday afternoon, the day before the opening of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Outside, 50 degree weather has liquified the canyons of snow, bathing Wacker Drive in six inches of water. Onstage, there’s a matinee of Die Fledermaus. Backstage, there’s a crew coping with a missed Butterfly rehearsal.

Earlier in the week, a polar vortex pummeled the windy city with heavy snows and record-low temperatures. In an almost unprecedented move, Lyric Opera of Chicago closed for a day, cancelling that critical rehearsal.

Lyric’s Madama Butterfly re-opens on Saturday with newly-arrived principals Patricia Racette and Stefano Secco.

Though she’s lost the rehearsal, Patricia Racette seems undaunted. After changing out of her kimono – a final costume fitting – she bursts into the backstage area declaring, “I miss the cold!”

In an interview with WFMT’s Noel Morris, the star soprano admits that having sung Cio-Cio-San dozens of times makes it easier to roll with the punches onstage, even as her connection to the character grows deeper:

Patricia Racette and Stefano Secco are part of a split cast, which spreads the opera’s run over four months and gives the company an opportunity to highlight different singers. Butterfly first opened in October with Amanda Echalaz and James Valenti in the lead roles.

Madama Butterfly continues at Lyric Opera of Chicago through January.

  • Marguerite Bien-Aime


  • Pamela Winfrey

    I used to be a very nervous vocalist with some serious stage fright. I turned that around by thinking about performance as a gift. It is not about me at all but about the gift that I can give to others. In this way, the music became separate from me and flew freely through space without my ponderous ego in the way. That helped me so much that I never had stage fright again.

  • Jfiddle

    I am seriously offended by this assertion that musicians should give away their trade for free. Sorry, I do this for a living… if I don’t get paid, I don’t put food on the table. Tell Yo-yo to park his privilege and to try scraping by as a poor musician in today’s world where everyone thinks they’re entitled to your services because, well, ‘community’.