Sylvia Lee as Lucia di LammermoorOpera San Jose begins its season tomorrow with a production of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, with a new member of the resident company of principal artists, Korean-born soprano Sylvia Lee in the title role. It’s a part she’s now sung on several continents, but the first time she sang Lucia, she had to think of butterflies to convey her famous ‘mad scene.’

There’s more information about the performances at the Opera San Jose website.

Her first opportunity to sing the role of Lucia came when she was still a student at the Mannes School of Music in New York City. The International Vocal Arts Institute chose her to play the lead in a production in a summer festival in Tel Aviv. “I got really excited, and then also very worried,” she explains, “because I think the most difficult thing to portray Lucia is her madness, and of course I’ve never been crazy, so it was hard to connect her feelings with mine.” So working with her director, she had to tap into one of her own qualities. “Lucia sees ghosts, which I’ve never experienced, but I know what makes me scared – I have lepidopterophobia, which is fear of butterflies… and the director taught me how to use this phobia to illustrate her madness…”  Lee will be playing a prominent part in the rest of the Opera San Jose season, making her role premiere of Mimi in La Boheme in April, and also appearing in the West Coast premiere of Kevin Puts’ Silent Night in February.