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" Becoming Butterfly means creating my own Butterfly."

Mariana HongCio-Cio-San - Madama Butterfly (2019)

Mariana has been the winner of the Australian Singing Competition’s Opera Award, the MBS Young Performers Award and has been nominated for Helpmann and Greenroom Awards. We are so excited to have Hyeseoung (Mariana) Hong join us for Madama Butterfly as the leading lady Cio-Cio-San.

Mariana gives us a little further insight into the creation of her character.

Tell us about the character of Cio-Cio San. What do you find most interesting about her? 

Cio-Cio San is a young, innocent girl, yet very strong. She just wants to feel what love is, and have a better future. She gives everything. Her real strength appears when she has to raise her son by herself. She makes hard decisions that are right for her. Most interesting is, she gives everything to Pinkerton and to her son. And you will see what she has been through, over 3 years’ time, while she is waiting for Pinkerton to come back. From the lovely, innocent young geisha to a woman who loses her child and lover. To play this roller coaster of emotions, is actually a great challenge because I have never experienced some of these in real life.

What do you love about Madama Butterfly? Why should people see it?

The music is simply divine, Butterfly herself is a unique character and her strength comes from love and sacrifice. Basically, I love every single moment of this opera. It is based on a real story. It happened and it is still happening somewhere around the world today. The characters are so familiar to the audience that they can be involved in, and touched by, the story. Each audience member could be Butterfly.

What is your favourite moment of the opera?

I love ‘Che tua madre’ in Act 2, when she reveals her child to Sharpless and tells the story of what she would do if her husband were not to return. She has been refused by her family and possibly from the village and if Pinkerton won’t return, she will have to become a beggar to raise her child. This is an extremely sad and painful moment but she has to tell the story as if it were a lullaby, so as not to scare her son. She just can’t hold it in anymore.

How do you prepare for a role like this?

It is possibly the hardest role for soprano because of the amount of singing and her character. To become a real Butterfly, I read the text often and imagine myself in those situations.

How do you feel playing such a well-known character?

At the beginning, I felt a bit nervous about whether I could make audiences cry as everyone knows this story – they even sing along. Becoming Butterfly means creating my own Butterfly (of course under the director’s vision) which feels fantastic. Sometimes I myself get confused: am I Butterfly or is Butterfly me?

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"…Mariana Hong revealed impressive vocal maturity .... managing exquisitely pure tone and legato, winning the audience vote."
- Eamonn Kelly, The Australian.

Eamon kellyThe Australian