Q&A with guest tenor Jonathan Yarrington on ‘Madama Butterfly’ at Fresno State

Jonathan Yarrington, "Pinkerton"

The Fresno State Symphony Orchestra and Opera Theatre will present Puccini’s famous opera with performances at 8 p.m. Friday, March 8, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 10, at the Fresno State Concert HallTickets are $20 for adults, $15 for faculty and seniors and $5 for students.


Filling the lead roles for an opera can be tricky. The person in question must have not only a strong voice and acting ability but the capacity to memorize nearly two-and-a-half hours of music which is performed entirely in Italian (don’t worry, subtitles will be projected during the performance). To fill the role of “Pinkerton” in Madama Butterfly, Dr. Anthony Radford tapped his long-time friend and assistant professor of voice at the University of Southern Mississippi Jonathan Yarrington.

We caught up with Yarrington and asked him about his role in the production through email. Here is that exchange:

Q: What is your role in the production of Madama Butterfly?

A: I’m singing the role of Pinkerton, the U.S. Naval officer who marries Cio-Cio San and then ruins her life.

Q: How did you become involved with the opera?

A: Via Dr. Tony Radford

Q: What has your experience during preparation been like?

A: It’s been lovely. I first sang this role nearly fifteen years ago and getting to revisit it has been fun.

Q: What are some of the challenges you have faced in putting on such a large production?

A: Vocal and physical strength/stamina, memorization, and Italian diction issues.

Jonathan Yarrington, “Pinkerton”
Jonathan Yarrington

Q: What are you most looking forward to at the premiere?

A: Singing with the orchestra in front of an audience is always a thrill! To do so with talented professional and student colleagues makes it even more exciting.

Q: What impact do you hope the opera will have on Fresno State? The community?

A: I hope it raises questions, like all great art should do.

Q: Is there anything we missed? Anything you’d like to add?

A: Thank you to Dr. Radford and to the entire Fresno State community for making this possible!

Puccini: Madama Butterfly poster

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Fresno State College of Arts and Humanities Communication Specialist

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