An Exclusive with Patricia Racette

Patricia Racette as Cio-Cio-San
Soprano Patricia Racette in Puccini’s ‘Madama Butterfly’; photo by Dan Rest

It’s Friday afternoon, the day before the opening of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. It’s 50 degrees outside. Wacker Drive, which had been a maze of ice canyons, is now six inches underwater. Onstage, there’s a matinee of Die Fledermaus. Backstage, a crew copes with a missed Butterfly rehearsal.

Earlier in the week, a polar vortex had pummeled Chicago with heavy snows and record-low temperatures. In an almost unprecedented move, Lyric Opera of Chicago suspended operations for a day.

Though she’s lost the rehearsal, Patricia Racette is undaunted. After 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. It’s an unflagging optimism she shares with her doomed character, Cio-Cio-San:

Patricia Racette and Stefano Secco are the second set of a split cast. 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.

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