Cio Cio San

  • A nuanced, powerful delivery by Yunah Lee in the title role is enough reason to see the sad tearjerker.... Lee is one of the world’s leading interpreters of the role. It’s hard to imagine a more nuanced, yet powerful delivery of this music than the one Lee delivered on Saturday. What’s more, it was clear that singing more than 100 performances as Puccini’s self-sacrificing heroine hasn’t diminished the immediacy and freshness of her portrayal. (Catherine Reese Newton, The Salt Lake Tribune, October, 2014)
  • Yunah Lee was just tremendous. I am not sure what other current exponent of this demanding role is singing this part with such absolute security, freshness, and understanding. Ms. Lee’s well-schooled spinto is a bit (just a bit) on the metallic side, but she knows how to color and couch every phrase to maximum elfect. She fully understands the role and gets comfortably under its skin Every ‘Big Moment’ is thrillingly, memorably delivered. Moreover, Yunah is wholly believable as the 15-year old Geisha even in the proximity of the small Alice Busch theatre. For her overwhehningly moving, impeccably sung perfonnance, Yunah Lee deservedly earned the most vociferous ovation of the [Glimmerglass] festival as the audience leapt to their feet as one to roar their approval at her curtain call. (James Sohre, Opera Today, September, 2014)
  • With her strong, forthright soprano, Yunah Lee brought unflagging stage presence and confidence to Butterfly, demonstrating the geisha's spine, not her victimhood (Heidi Waleson, The Wall Street Journal, August, 2014)
  • "That [Cio Cio San's] brave, pathetic loneliness nevertheless came through clearly was the work of the soprano Yunah Lee, an assertive, mature Butterfly.... she sang clearly and articulated the text eloquently. (Zachary Woolfe, The New York Times, July, 2014)
  • Yunah Lee’s Butterfly was first-rate: a big voice, projecting a wealth of focused color (particularly in the middle range), and excellent attention to the musical line. (Boston Globe, November, 2012)
  • Lee... is both an excellent singer and actor and turns Butterfly’s love transcendent rather than foolish and her heartache so palpable that the knife seems the only answer. ( November, 2012)
  • The big appeal of this Butterfly was the presence of Korean–American soprano Yunah Lee, who has made the opera's wronged title character her signature role. Lee handled the not inconsiderable vocal demands of the role with aplomb but also did a superb job of conveying Butterfly's shifting, contradictory feelings that are so beautifully evoked by Puccini's score.... (Opera News, October 2010)
  • With Korean soprano Yunah Lee in the title role and Catherine Malfitano pulling the strings as stage director, I witnessed a magnificently compelling “Madama Butterfly” — far and away the best I have ever seen.... Even with these exceptional components, the opera belonged to Lee. Her voice was thrilling, and she assumed the role of the tragic geisha with the spirit and bearing of one who has intimate knowledge of this foreign culture. (Colorado Springs Gazette, July 2010)
  • Soprano Yunah Lee as Cio-Cio San was stupendous, her voice soaring and radiant, her physical presence beautiful and affecting. A high point was an expansive and evocative account of the famous aria “Un bel di,” but throughout the entire second act, she displayed a remarkable ability to carry long phrases with consistent tone color and lung power seemingly to spare. Yet the ear and mind could never linger on her technical feats for long because the heart kept being drawn to the music's heavy emotional weight.... During the rather lengthy overture that followed the second intermission, Cio-Cio San is seen in a fading light, keeping silent vigil for her American husband. Even while holding this frozen profile, Lee is compelling. In the final lines of the opera, sung to her 3-year-old boy, her voice takes on an otherworldly size and shattering urgency. (The Times Union, July 2009)


  • ...while her portrayal of the unfortunate geisha [in Madama Butterfly] is simply excellent (I've seen it live), tonight she gave proof of how versatile she is, and how she should be getting other roles as well. Her Pamina was phenomenal! (Luiz Gazzola,, January, 2013)


  • Yunah Lee's Mimi was utterly lovely, a delicate flower that could be blown away with the softest wind. She conveyed the woman's tenderness, as well as her vulnerability. With a soprano that added light to every phrase, Lee brought Mimi's plights into vivid focus. (The Plain Dealer)
  • As Mimi, Yunah Lee was suitably demure, but with a voice that displayed some spine behind this dying flower of a character. (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • Soprano Yunah Lee sang a truly wonderful Mimi. Her phrasing and breath control were remarkable. Coupled to a big voice with lovely tone and just enough "edge" for Puccini's orchestration, her attributes add up to a major talent...Lee can swell and diminish a held note as a thing of beauty. Her singing in Act III was impeccable, and she seemed to have plenty of vocal power in reserve. (The Advocate)


  • Soprano Yunah Lee made the slave girl Liù both vulnerable and passionate: Her voice, besides having a basic luster to give it allure, swelled into big phrases as readily as it tapered off into gentle ones, and every drop to her knees was affecting. (The Orlando Sentinel)
  • Turandot who? Other Soprano steals the show. The young Korean Soprano almost stole the show. (Home News Tribune)
  • Her tearful final scene, after the death of the slave girl Liù, was genuinely touching. And Lee's portrayal of Liù was in many ways the most enjoyable performance of the evening, both vocally and dramatically. (The Record)
  • Yunah Lee as Liù offered two gorgeous, honeyed arias sung with a fresh, evenly tempered clarity and sure sense of how to underplay Puccini's sentimentality, her death scene was the one truly memorable moment of the evening. (The Star Ledger)


  • Yunah Lee brings a limpid lyric soprano to the role of Leila. (The Plain Dealer)


  • Yunah Lee as Adina led the evening with a stunning voice that was full-bodied and expansive, yet light when it needed to be. (Daily News)
  • Soprano Yunah Lee made a captivating Adina, singing with clarity and vigor and rendering the role's more ornate lines fluently, her final aria completed the character's transformation from flighty minx to sincere lover, and rendered it in musical terms (San Francisco Chronicle)


  • The most successful vocal performance of the evening came from soprano Yunah Lee as Micaëla. (Star Telegram)
  • Yunah Lee, a rich-toned and powerful Micaela, is a real "find". (Dallas Morning News)