Drawing: Teodor Ilincai in Madama Butterfly

Romanian tenor Teodor Ilincai made his international debut as MacDuff in Verdi’s MACBETH at the Hamburg State Opera in January 2009 and later that year first appeared at the Royal Opera House, playing Rodolfo in LA BOHEME. He returned to Covent Garden last month as Lieutenant Pinkerton opposite Ana Maria Martinez in MADAMA BUTTERFLY, where he signed my drawing.

Drawing: Ana Maria Martinez in Madama Butterfly

Puerto Rican-American soprano Ana Maria Martinez returned to Covent Garden last month to play the lead role of Cio-Cio-San in the Royal Opera’s production of Puccini’s MADAMA BUTTERFLY. Since making her Royal Opera debut as Donna Elvira in DON GIOVANNI in 2002, Ana Maria has starred in a number of productions including MADAMA BUTTERFLY when she replaced the ill Alexia Voulgaridou in 2015. She is very familiar with the character of Cio-Cio-San, having also performed the part for the Metropolitan Opera and the Barvarian and the Vienna State Operas among others.Ana Maria signed my sketch after the final night performance in London last week.

Drawing: Marcelo Puente in Madama Butterfly

Argentina tenor Marcelo Puente is so good at being bad, he gets booed at the curtain call. Making his Covent Garden debut as Pinkerton, one of Opera’s great villains in the latest revival of Puccini’s MADAMA BUTTERFLY at the Royal Opera House, the 38 year old has fulfilled a fourteen-year dream to perform at the iconic venue. Taking a break from his opera scholarship in Düsseldorf in the summer of 2003 he came to London and took a job as a waiter in an Italian restaurant near the ROH. They found out he was a singer so he performed between waiting tables and everyday passed the Opera House dreaming one day he would be on the famous stage. He actually gave up medical school and changed his career direction after hearing a recording of Pavarotti.

The reviews have been excellent. Tim Ashley, in the Guardian also mentioned opera audiences habit of booing reprehensible on stage characters and commented, when Marcelo takes his curtain call they greet him with “the kind of noise usually accorded a pantomime villain, despite giving one of the most complete and convincing portrayals of the role to be heard for some time.” He went on to say that, “Some might argue that the response validates his characterisation, though whether it’s a fitting acknowledgement for such a superb achievement seems to me debatable.”

Drawing: Ermonela Jaho in Madama Butterfly

Albanian-Italian soprano Ermonela Jaho is the toast of the opera world this week after her opening performance in the title role of Puccini’s tragedy MADAMA BUTTERFLY at the Royal Opera House.

Critics from all the mainstream papers in the UK and beyond have cemented the 43 year-old’s star status. “The best Cio-Cio-San London has seen in years,” wrote Michael Church in the Independent. The Guardian’s Tim Ashley headlined his five-star review of the Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier production with “The whole evening is outstanding.” He went on to write,”Ermonela Jaho, one of the great verismo interpreters, brings uncompromising veracity to the title role.”

I left this drawing at the stage door and it came back signed along with a dedicated photograph.