Waiting for Kanyova

Maria Kanyova will be here soon, performing as Cio Cio San in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly on November 21 and 23 at Overture Hall. A Chicago resident, Kanyova has starred at Lyric Opera, L.A. Opera, and New York City Opera, and now she’s coming to Madison.

Simply put, we cannot wait. To get a sense of why we’re so excited, listen to this interview she gave at Opera Colorado discussing the role of Butterfly. And here’s an exerpt from a feature on Kanyova in Opera News (Nov. 2006, Vol. 71, No. 5, by William R. Braun):

The night before we spoke one morning last August, Maria Kanyova was onstage at Glimmerglass Opera as Jan├ícek’s Jenufa. She spent the summer playing a harrowing scene in which the body of Jenufa’s baby boy, frozen under the river ice for months, turns up with the little red cap his mother made for him. Kanyova has also sung Cio-Cio-San, who sends her child out of the house so that he won’t see her kill herself, and Suor Angelica, a woman locked in a convent, who is coldly told that the child she never knew is dead. Kanyova is the mother of a four-year-old boy and a three-year-old girl. I ask the soprano if she has ever simply fallen apart in any of these roles. The answer is immediate, and a bit surprising.

“Yes,” she says quickly. “But, I do it in rehearsal, and I allow myself to do it several times. It’s something of thinking about the children and going that far that allows me in performance to monitor those feelings. Even so, last night it caught me just a little bit off guard, I got a little bit of it. Usually, because I’ve already gone that far, I can pull it back and still have the intensity of the scene.” At Central City Opera in 2005, Kanyova did a run of Butterflys under the direction of Catherine Malfitano, a mother herself. “She allowed me to experiment with finding those emotions. I did allow myself to go that far in rehearsal, but even in performance, there’s a certain point after which you know you don’t have to sing anymore, that you can’t help it, you pretty much have to go there, and I did every show with mascara running down my face for the bow. And even in Suor Angelica, I think I did. But with Jenufa there’s more to do. It’s heart-wrenching.”

Later in the piece, Braun concludes:

The sense of equilibrium Kanyova exudes does not stem merely from the way she combines the children, from whom she’s never been apart, with the full-time career. There’s also the package of fiery acting (it’s more than the fact that she’s a tiny slip of a thing that makes critics compare her to Teresa Stratas) added to some real vocal beauty.

Get excited, Madison, this will be a performance to remember!

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