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Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre Presenting “Madama Butterfly” Jan 17 and 19

By January 2, 2020 No Comments


Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini

January 17, 2020 at 7:30pm and January 19, 2020 at 2pm

Free pre-opera talk given by Stage Director A. Scott Parry 1 hour prior to each performance

Paramount Theatre

123 Third Ave. SE

Cedar Rapids, IA  52401

Tickets: 319-366-8203 or

Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre will present Puccini’s classic work, Madama Butterfly, Friday, January 17 and Sunday, January 19 at the Paramount Theatre in Cedar Rapids. The story takes place in Nagasaki, Japan in the first half of the 20th Century. An American Naval Lieutenant (B.F. Pinkerton) insincerely marries a young geisha (Cio-Cio san) before returning to the US. She, however, takes the marriage very seriously and alienates her family and friends by converting to Christianity and referring to her home and self as “American,” as she awaits his return. He does return, but with his American wife and only to retrieve the child Cio-Cio san bore in his absence. The aria Un bel die vendremo, arguably one of the most famous arias of all time, is sung by Cio-Cio san at the end of Act II as she holds fast to her belief that “one beautiful day” Pinkerton will return for her and their son.

Conducted by Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre Founder and Artistic Director, Daniel Kleinknecht, and directed by A. Scott Parry, the cast includes Yulia Lysenko (Cio-Cio san), Jeremy Brauner (Lt. B.F. Pinkerton), Kelly Hill (Suzuki), Thaddeus Ennen (Col. Sharpless), and Joel Sorensen (Goro). Additional roles will be filled by members of CROpera’s Young Artist Program. Support for this production is provided by: Season Sponsors CRST International, Cedar Rapids Hotel/Motel Fund, UFG Insurance, The Jared & Carol Hills Foundation, and Divine Engineering; and Production Sponsors Collins Aerospace and Orchestra Iowa.



Daniel Kleinknecht (Founder, Artistic Director, Conductor)

Dr. Kleinknecht founded Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre in 1998. Over 20 years later, the company has commissioned and produced three original opera works as well as over 60 productions from the historical repertoire. Its Young Artist Program, established in 2003, is respected nationally as a vehicle for helping post-graduate music students begin their careers. A member of Opera America, CROpera is one of only two professional opera companies in Iowa.

Pedro Yanez (Accompanist, Vocal Coach)

Mr. Yanez, originally from Tucson, AZ, is currently on the staff of Chicago Lyric Opera’s Ryan Opera Center as a coach and pianist. For four seasons he was the managing director and principal coach for the young artist training program at Florida Grand Opera in Miami, FL. Previously he served on the music staff of many opera companies in the US and abroad, including LA Opera, Dallas Opera, Opera Colorado, Arizona Opera, and for many summers at Santa Fe Opera. Mr. Yanez was Music Director and Pianist for CROpera’s 2019 production of The Threepenny Opera, and Coach and Rehearsal/Orchestra Pianist for The Grant Wood Operas: Stokes of Genius.

Yulia Lysenko (Cio-Cio san)

Ukranian native and current Austin, TX resident, Ms. Lysenko (soprano) began her career at the Lviv National Opera. Praised throughout Asia and Europe for her roles as Violetta (La Traviata), Mimi and Musetta (La boheme), and Adina (L’Elisir d’Amore), she made her American debut at the Princeton Festival as Cio-Cio san in Madama Butterfly.

Jeremy Brauner (Lt. B.F. Pinkerton)

Mr. Brauner (tenor) was a finalist in the 2019 Metropolitan Opera National Council competition NE Region and has a degree in musical theater from Montclair State University. He made his debut as Alfredo (La Traviata) with Dell’Arte Opera and has also performed as Mario Cavaradossi (Tosca), Ricardo (Un Ballo in Maschera), and Calaf (Turandot). 

Kelly Hill (Suzuki)

With degrees from Yale University and UNI, Ms. Hill (mezzo soprano) began her doctoral studies at University of Iowa this fall. She is a two-time Regional Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and a former fellow of the Aspen Music Festival and School. Ms. Hill has apprenticed with Santa Fe Opera, Central City Opera, and CROpera where she assumed the role of the Page in the 2010 IPTV-filmed and broadcast production of Salome, directed by MET Opera’s Gregory Keller.


Thaddeus Ennen (Colonel Sharpless)

An Iowa native, Mr. Ennen (baritone) recently performed Yamadori (Madama Butterfly) and 2nd Mate (Billy Budd) for Central City Opera. He has also apprenticed with Santa Fe Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, and Pensacola Opera. Roles with CROpera include Dr. Byron McKeeby and John Turner (The Grant Wood Operas: Strokes of Genius), Mr. Peachum (The Threepenny Opera), and Andrew MacLaren (Brigadoon).

Joel Sorenson (Goro)

An in-demand character tenor, Mr. Sorensen’s current season engagements include Spoletta in San Antonio Opera’s Tosca, Beppe in Greensboro Opera’s Pagliacci, the Witch in San Diego Opera’s Hansel und Gretel, and Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of Das Rheingold. He is a seasoned artist at the Metropolitan Opera and a favorite at San Francisco Opera and Los Angeles Opera.


2020 Young Artist Program Members

Christina Adams (mezzo), Chicago, IL

Ashley Armstrong (mezzo), Winterset, IA

Edward Brennan (tenor), New Lenox, IL

Nolan Brown (baritone), Urbandale, IL

Zachary Brown (baritone), New York, NY

Benjamin Burney (tenor), Youngstown, OH

Ian Butler (tenor), Cedar Rapids, IA

Samantha Hornback (soprano), Baltimore, MD

Jacob Lay (baritone), Ellenwood, GA

Molly McDonough (soprano), Cedar Rapids, IA

Michelle Monroe (mezzo), Cedar Falls, IA

Janese Pentico (soprano), Salem, WI

Josh Reynolds (baritone), Lubbock, TX

Bo Wang (tenor), Ft. Worth, TX



Lori Lane, Executive Director

Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre

425 Second St. SE, Suite 960

Cedar Rapids, IA  52401