In Review: Calenos and Babcock in Santa Barbara "Madama Butterfly"
"Eleni Calenos was magnificent in the challenging role of Cio-Cio-san. Does casting the role with a non-Asian performer in 2019 naturalize cultural appropriation? Or is Puccini among the first composers to offer a critique of cultural imperialism? The answer at this point is surely a qualified “yes” to both. Thanks to her rigorous yet stirring approach, Calenos brought the kind of tact and self-awareness to the role that will help it survive in the new century. . .
. . .Audrey Babcock was an equally memorable Suzuki."
-Santa Barbara Independent Read full review.
"As the title character, Cio-Cio San, soprano Eleni Calenos brought tireless power to another of Puccini’s lead roles after inhabiting Mimi in last season’s Opera Santa Barbara production of "La Boheme." The composer and a vocalist are a perfect match. Her power and energy are remarkable. Her movement and the affect she can portray simply through posture are a pleasure to listen to and watch. Cio-Cio San’s loyal housemaid, Suzuki, is sung by mezzo-soprano Audrey Babcock, who offered the audience and lead character comedic realism, sincere devotion and profound compassion."