An opera full of emotions for Francesca Tiburzi

An opera full of emotions for Francesca Tiburzi

Night after night, during the final scene of the opera Madam ButterflySoprano Francesca Tiburzi can’t hold back the tears that stream down her face. The emotions running through the character of Geisha Cio-Cio-San are just too strong.

“I have no trouble getting those emotions. I have tears in my eyes at the end of every performance,” said the Italian lyric singer, who appears in the Opéra de Québec’s production at the Grand Théâtre de Québec from Saturday.

The soprano from Bergamo, northeast of Milan, has embodied the role of the Japanese geisha for several years. In February 2021 she slipped into the skin of this character for the first time at the Opéra-Théâtre Metz in France.

A role she then resumed at the Puccini Festival in the Italian composer’s city, in Metz and in a performance in Essen, Germany, where she will return to Quebec for three new performances.

Francesca Tiburzi will star at the Grand Théâtre on May 13th and 18th. Soprano Myung Joo Lee will slip into the robes of geisha Cio-Cio-San for performances on May 16 and 20.

Change that stems from a virus that has afflicted the Korean soprano in recent weeks. Artistic director Jean-François Lapointe wanted to protect Myung Joo Lee’s voice.

beauty and power

Madama Butterfly, an opera in three acts by Puccini, tells the story of a 15-year-old geisha who falls in love with Lieutenant Pinkerton of the United States Navy. The soldier marries the young woman for entertainment and then leaves her.

“Cio-Cio-San is in love in the first act. She dreams of this opportunity to change her social situation and her life as a geisha. By marrying Pinkerton, she dreams of a different life,” she said in an interview.

Pinkerton leaves and three years later the young geisha, who had a child from her association with the lieutenant, is eager to find him. She is going through a time of hope and doubt. Pinkerton and his American wife come back to pick up the child. The heart of Cio-Cio-San, who was happy, is deeply broken.

The Italian soprano loves the beauty and power of the music in this Puccini opera, which draws a parallel to the stories of sex tourism.

“It’s an interesting opera because it touches on different colors of love, hope and death. It’s a horrifying story and a message of compassion,” she noted.


Francesca Tiburzi states that the interpretation of this character, which she likes very much, is difficult due to the character’s psychology and the technical difficulties.

“Cio-Cio-San is on stage all the time. From start to finish. It requires a lot of concentration. Added to this is the challenge of interpreting a character with many nuances. It’s very interesting,” said the one who is discovering Quebec for the first time.

Tenor Éric Laporte (Pinkerton), mezzo-soprano Lysianne Tremblay (Suzuki), baritone Phillip Addis (Sharpless) and soprano Geneviève Dompierre-Smith (Kate Pinkerton) embody the main characters in this opera, staged by François Racine and presented in its traditional form.

Antoine Normand, Geoffroy Salvas, Marcel Beaulieu, Robert Huard, Michel Desbiens, Agathe Herrmann, Andrée-Anne Laprise and Émilie Baillargeon complete the cast.

The 2.5-hour opera with an intermission with the Orchester symphonique de Québec and its choir, conducted by Italian conductor Cleila Cafiero, is presented in the original Italian version with surtitles.