Cio Cio San
- Yunah Lee’s Butterfly was
first-rate: a big voice, projecting a wealth of focused color (particularly in the middle
range), and excellent attention to the musical line. (Boston Globe, November, 2012)
Lee's clear sound was light enough to capture this initial innocence, but also achieved the necessary
power for a dramatically driving "Un bel di" and a breathtakingly moving rendition of her final anguished
aria, "Tu, tu, piccolo Iddio."
(Examiner.com, November, 2012)
Lee... is both an excellent singer and actor and turns
Butterfly’s love transcendent rather than foolish and
her heartache so palpable that the knife seems the only
(WBUR.org November, 2012)
- The big appeal of this Butterfly was the presence of Korean–American
soprano Yunah Lee, who has made the opera's wronged title character her signature role.
Lee handled the not inconsiderable vocal demands of the role with aplomb but also did a
superb job of conveying Butterfly's shifting, contradictory feelings that are so beautifully
evoked by Puccini's score....
(Opera News, October 2010)
- The final act and in particular “Un bel di” are a thoroughly captivating event,
above all thanks to Yunah Lee as Cio-Cio-San, who is utterly convincing in mood and presentation.
With her stimulating, powerful soprano she gives a commanding and touching performance
revealing the highs and lows of Madame Butterfly’s emotions.
(Das Opernglas, 2009)
Yunah Lee is a revelation as Cio Cio San. The voice unites girlish innocence as well as wistful sensuality.
The wonderful highs and seamless register transitions are a testament to her high vocal artistry.
In combination with the natural silky beauty of the voice, the soprano achieves a forceful expression
which she uses to portray the manifold character of the sensitive girl without becoming sentimental.
(Online Musik Magazin, 2009)
This proved one of the better acted Butterfly performances of my experience, and the singing was highly
satisfying. There can be few aspects of Butterfly and Suzuki that Yunah Lee and Mika Shigematsu have not
investigated: their demeanor and vocalism were detailed and assured. Lee, very attractive onstage though
no teenager, wields a handsomely colored full lyric sound and sang most compellingly....
(Opera News, July 2009)
In addition to a powerful and expressive voice Lee identifies totally with Butterfly....
(Opera Today, July 2009)
With Korean soprano Yunah Lee in the title role and Catherine Malfitano pulling the strings as stage director,
I witnessed a magnificently compelling “Madama Butterfly” — far and away the best I have ever seen....
Even with these exceptional components, the opera belonged to Lee. Her voice was thrilling,
and she assumed the role of the tragic geisha with the spirit and bearing of one who has intimate
knowledge of this foreign culture.
(Colorado Springs Gazette, July 2010)
...outstanding singing and acting by Yunah Lee as Cio-Cio-San (Butterfly) make this Butterfly connect on a high
emotional level with the audience.... Yunah Lee's “Un Bel Di” breathes new life into the aria....
(Denver Performing Arts Examiner, July 2010)
Yunah Lee delivered a strong, emotionally resonant performance as Japanese geisha Cio- Cio-San....
Lee's Central City debut was an experienced, mature “Butterfly” whose potent
portrayal of long-suffering love, disillusionment and self-denial cast a spell over the capacity
audience.... when she gives up the couple's child to Pinkerton and his “real” American wife,
and subsequently commits suicide like her father — their respective torment is riveting, and the
escalating drama and their complementary vocal acuity is sublime.
(The Denver Post, July 2010)
Soprano Yunah Lee as Cio-Cio San was stupendous, her voice soaring and radiant, her
physical presence beautiful and affecting. A high point was an expansive and evocative
account of the famous aria “Un bel di,” but throughout the entire second act, she
displayed a remarkable ability to carry long phrases with consistent tone color and lung
power seemingly to spare. Yet the ear and mind could never linger on her technical
feats for long because the heart kept being drawn to the music's heavy emotional
During the rather lengthy overture that followed the second intermission, Cio-Cio San
is seen in a fading light, keeping silent vigil for her American husband. Even while
holding this frozen profile, Lee is compelling. In the final lines of the opera, sung to her
3-year-old boy, her voice takes on an otherworldly size and shattering urgency.
(The Times Union, July 2009)
Soprano Yunah Lee was absolutely perfect as Cio Cio San, with a
warm and glorious voice that could melt ice. Her acting was picture perfect, with
great subtlety and yet a range of emotion that broke my heart. Of her aria, the
one most anticipated is Un bel di (One fine day). But her first act Vogliatemi
bene (Love me, please) was heartfelt as well.
(Berkshire Fine Arts, July 2009)
...there are several Asians cast in this work, including the spectacular Korean-born soprano playing
Butterfly.... Highly accomplished, Lee has a golden-toned sound and a natural projection ability. At Thursday’s opening
night performance, she used every cell of her being to plumb emotions: besottedly in love; crazed with grief.
Her “Un bel di” (“One beautiful day”) brought an endless round of applause.
(Saratogian, July 2009)
Yunah Lee created a comprehensively beautiful and believable Butterfly.
This was a sublime performance, notable not just for the effortless ease of her singing but for Lee's
extraordinary ability to heighten the dramatic tension through understatement and restraint, rather than phoney dramatics....
Butterfly is a mammoth role and Puccini did not spare the vocal chords, but Lee
glided through the great challenges with silken ease: these included the sustained
and soaring 18-minute duet with Pinkerton that ended Act One, the hopeful but
doom-laden Un Bel Di and the delightful Flower Duet with her maid, Suzuki....
(The Sunday Business Post)
Korean soprano Yunah lee was a sympathetic Cio-Cio-San, delivering Puccini's heartflet music with feeling and lovely vocal coloration.
Ms Lee is vocally secure and vibrant, as well as delicate and demure. Her passionate outpouring in 'Un bel di' deserves its ovation.
Yunah Lee's Mimi was utterly lovely, a delicate flower that could be blown away with the softest wind.
She conveyed the woman's tenderness, as well as her vulnerability.
With a soprano that added light to every phrase, Lee brought Mimi's plights into vivid focus.
(The Plain Dealer)
As Mimi, Yunah Lee was suitably demure, but with a voice that displayed some spine behind this dying flower of a character.
(Akron Beacon Journal)
Soprano Yunah Lee sang a truly wonderful Mimi. Her phrasing and breath control were remarkable. Coupled to a big voice with lovely tone and just enough "edge" for Puccini's orchestration, her attributes add up to a major talent...Lee can swell and diminish a held note as a thing of beauty. Her singing in Act III was impeccable, and she seemed to have plenty of vocal power in reserve.
Soprano Yunah Lee made the slave girl Liù both vulnerable and passionate: Her voice, besides having a basic luster to give it allure, swelled into big phrases as readily as it tapered off into gentle ones, and every drop to her knees was affecting.
(The Orlando Sentinel)
Turandot who? Other Soprano steals the show. The young Korean Soprano almost stole the show.
(Home News Tribune)
Her tearful final scene, after the death of the slave girl Liù, was genuinely touching. And Lee's portrayal of Liù was in many ways the most enjoyable performance of the evening, both vocally and dramatically.
Yunah Lee as Liù offered two gorgeous, honeyed arias sung with a fresh, evenly tempered clarity and sure sense of how to underplay Puccini's sentimentality, her death scene was the one truly memorable moment of the evening.
(The Star Ledger)
Yunah Lee brings a limpid lyric soprano to the role of Leila.
(The Plain Dealer)
Yunah Lee as Adina led the evening with a stunning voice that was full-bodied and expansive, yet light when it needed to be.
Soprano Yunah Lee made a captivating Adina, singing with clarity and vigor and rendering the role's more ornate lines fluently, her final aria completed the character's transformation from flighty minx to sincere lover, and rendered it in musical terms
(San Francisco Chronicle)
The most successful vocal performance of the evening came from soprano Yunah Lee as Micaëla.
Yunah Lee, a rich-toned and powerful Micaela, is a real "find".
(Dallas Morning News)