Stars Align

The Met’s spring performances of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly bring together soprano Asmik Grigorian and tenor Jonathan Tetelman, two exhilarating singers making major company debuts this season. 

Lauded as “one of the fiercest dramatic talents in the field” by The New York Times, Lithuanian soprano Asmik Grigorian arrives at the Met this month for her long-awaited debut as Cio-Cio-San, one of the roles that has driven her rise to stardom. Since 2018, when her performance of Strauss’s Salome caused a sensation at the Salzburg Festival, she has made her way to leading stages in Vienna, Milan, Berlin, Munich, Verona, and Madrid, with Butterfly becoming a signature. Cio-Cio-San requires not only a virtuosic singer but also an expressive actor who can convincingly portray her harrowing emotional transformation, and for Grigorian, who possesses a “wild voice [that is] rich and dark” (Le Monde) and performs “with daring, total commitment” (The New York Times), the role is a perfect fit. In fact, it’s practically in her blood: Her mother sang Butterfly while pregnant with Asmik, opposite her father as Pinkerton.

Starring alongside Grigorian as the callous American naval officer who causes Cio-Cio-San’s ruin is Chilean-born American tenor Jonathan Tetelman, who made his company debut last month as Ruggero in Puccini’s La Rondine. At just 36 years old, he has become one of the leading singers of his generation, with Gramophone proclaiming, “Tetelman’s tenor possesses gleaming brightness … the sunniest-sounding tenor since Luciano Pavarotti.” He especially excels in Italian repertoire, with triumphant appearances in La Bohème, La Traviata, Tosca, and Madama Butterfly in Berlin, Covent Garden, Turin, Lille, Barcelona, San Francisco, and Houston.

Joining Grigorian and Tetelman for five performances through May 11 are mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong as Suzuki and baritone Lucas Meachem as Sharpless, with Maestro Xian Zhang on the podium for Anthony Minghella’s vibrant and moving staging.