2017-02-17 / Society

Local talent joins international cast in Palmetto Opera’s Madame Butterfly

By Kathy Newman


Selena Cruz Selena Cruz In addition to Teatro Lirico d'Europa’s international soloists and chorus, local talent and musicians from the SC Philharmonic will participate in Palmetto Opera’s full-scale production of Madama Butterfly at The Koger Center on March 4.

Selena Gabriela Cruz, an eight-year-old who attends Timmerman School, is a third grader and part of the competition choir. She will play the role of Sorrow, the child of Butterfly and Pinkerton. Selena holds over 25 beauty pageant titles and has starred in several seasons of the hit television show, Toddlers and Tiaras, which airs on TLC.

Selena has also filmed several commercials and has appeared in international magazines and talk shows. She enjoys playing the piano, performing Aztec dances across the USA and Mexico, in the opera, and several other stage acts. She has been involved with entertainment and arts since the age of eight-months.


Jonathan Philippe Cawley Jonathan Philippe Cawley Jonathan Philippe Cawley will portray Prince Yamdori, a suitor of Cio- Cio-San (Madama Butterfly) He is a senior voice performance major at the University of SC under the direction of Metropolitan Opera veteran Janet Hopkins.

He was a participant in the Institute of Young Dramatic Voices from 2009 to 2014, working with world renowned mezzo soprano Dolores Zajick. He will attend the Music Academy of the West this summer, working closely with the legendary Marilyn Horne.

He recently made his debut with the Teatro Lirico D’Europa and the Palmetto Opera as Borsa in Verdi’s Rigoletto. He has also performed roles with Opera at USC and done educational outreach work in Palmetto Opera’s Opera is Awesome program for high school students. He visited with high school students to give them insight into opera and about becoming an opera singer. Local singers will also augment Teatro Lirico’s chorus.

The production’s leading soloists are acclaimed internationally and most have performed in previous Palmetto Opera productions. They include: Puerto Rican Millangee Perez ( Madama Butterfly), Australian Benjamin Slowman ( B. F. Pinkerton), Bulgarian Dobromir Momekov ( Sharpless), and Viara Zhelezova (Sukucki) and Stanislava Ivanova (Kate, Pinkerton's American wife).

Columbia had not had a professional opera season since 1988 when Palmetto Opera began in 2011, They partner with Teatro Lirico d’Europa, founded in 1988 in Europe. Tickets can be purchased at online at KogerCenterForTheArts.com, 801 Park St.,(M-F) or 803-251-2222.

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