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“As Cio-Cio-San, Rena Harms is no suffering sphinx. She’s utterly sympathetic, a teenager who had only a few choices but made the most of them — and whose biggest mistake was casting her lot with a U.S. Naval officer who proves far from a gentleman. Harms at first is wide-eyed and beguiling, but as Madame Butterfly unfolds, her Cio-Cio-San is revealed as a woman in her own right, and that’s when we see the steel that girded her coquetry. She continues to insist on the values she was told America believed in — even when the evidence increasingly points to the contrary — not because she is stupid, but because she cannot allow herself to contemplate the alternative. Her suicide is not a cry for help; it’s a political statement. Making a memorable Opera Theatre St. Louis debut, Harms boasts a voice that’s almost shocking in its beauty, and the cast supporting her is terrific. Harms triumphs as Cio-Cio San.” – Riverfront Times
“OTSL has assembled a fantastic cast. Soprano Rena Harms, who recently played Cio-Cio-San with the English National Opera, turns in a stunner of a performance here, forcefully sung throughout her range and acted with real conviction. She makes the character’s tricky mix of vulnerability and backbone completely credible and fully commands the stage at all times. …Like Ms. Harms, [Brandenburg] has a truly spectacular voice, especially when combined with hers. Their long love duet at the conclusion of the first act was pure musical ecstasy. Even I was enthralled.” – KDHX
“What a glorious collection of voices! Soprano Rena Harms, as Butterfly, and tenor Michael Brandenburg, as Pinkerton, are a fine match, and they do glorious service to Puccini’s gorgeous melodies. Their love duet, which closes Act One, is weepingly beautiful. Puccini makes it climb and climb — rather like Wagner’s “Liebestod” — and these two twining voices sing it splendidly. At the opening of Act Two Butterfly sings to her servant, Suzuki, of her irrepressible faith in Pinkerton’s return. “One fine day” (Un bel di) is the most famous aria in this opera–and perhaps in all of Puccini. It is certainly the one opera melody that I always find myself whistling. Miss Harms triumphs in it. It’s a glory.” – Broadway World Opera
“Harms, who has also performed the role with the English National Opera, is a superb Butterfly, delivering both vocally and dramatically in the opera’s central role. She also gets the opera’s best-known aria, the tragic “Un bel di” (“One fine day”), in which she affirms her faith that Pinkerton will come back to her.” – Playback:STL
“A bravura performance by Rena Harms in her OTSL debut in the title role. Still, this version features some excellent singing and performances, led by soprano Harms. She’s performed in Madame Butterfly previously with the English National Opera, where she doubtless honed her interpretation both with her strong voice but also by capturing the romanticism and idealism of the young geisha.” – Ladue News
“Cio-Cio San is a “big sing” and Rena Harms proved more than up to the task. Once she entered, we were able to observe that Rena is physically ‘right’ for the role, able to suggest a waif-like fifteen-year-old. Un bel di was touching and full voiced, and a spinto sheen began to evidence itself. Act III evolved into a no holds barred finale, with the diva hurling out full-throated, impassioned phrases that thrilled the ears and stirred the heart. The totality of her achievement was overwhelming, and the audience rose to their feet as one to laud her with an especially vociferous ovation.” – Opera Today
“With its cherry blossoms and origami birds, this 11-year-old production is strikingly beautiful, and Rena Harms and David Butt Philip give strong performances… The bright, focused tone of her soprano makes her more convincingly girlish than most.” – The Guardian
“Rena Harms as Butterfly acted effectively and displayed a lovely voice.” – Daily Express
“Whenever Harms opens her gorgeous gob, the rest of the cast become pallid in comparison.” – Londonist
“Rena Harms was the perfect balance of child-like, optimistic, and strong as Cio-Cio San. Her bright sound echoed her characterization, and she had a knack for trading soaring phrases with matter-of-fact, immediate deliveries of the more banal, even funny moments in the score. Butterfly can be infuriating enough, and our sympathy can depend entirely on whether or not we like Cio-Cio San; we loved Harms, and her dramatic trip throughout the show earned more than enough sympathy from the audience.” – Schmopera
“Soprano Rena Harms maintains consistent expressive power as well as beauty of tone throughout the exhaustingly lengthy challenge of the title role.” – The Stage
“As Butterfly herself, Rena Harms was touchingly expressive in Act 1, her hope and conviction sung with real feeling in Act 2, and with high voltage emotional power backed by hidden depths in the orchestra during Act 3. Her early duet was beautifully sung with David Butt Philip’s Pinkerton, whose lovely line in lyrically romantic persuasiveness served to underline the callowness of this naval officer’s narcissism.” – Ronan Theatre Reviews
“Rena Harms is an alluring delight and portrays the purity an undefiled fragrance that is so essential for Butterfly.” – Albie Music
“Rena Harms was incredibly moving; a vivid actress, she painted the depths of Cio-Cio-San’s despair with an almost unwatchable immediacy. There is real power to her steely soprano, and she was capable of cutting over the orchestra during her long love duet with Pinkerton at the end of Act I…she sang a potent ‘Un bel dì’ that couldn’t help but move, and her final scene was almost unbearably heartbreaking.” – Opera Britannia
“Soprano Rena Harms and baritone Keith Phares gave spot-on performances Friday evening as siblings Charlie and Beatrice, creating completely believable characters and playing strong, moving solo and ensemble scenes. Beautifully matched vocally, both Harms and Phares gave polished, precise deliveries of the sometimes angular, sometimes quite lyrical vocal writing, making use of the small-for-opera performing space to make strong connections between their characters and the audience.” – Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
“A fine cast is a prerequisite for pulling off such a subtle work. The Florentines were fortunate in this regard…No less effective is the melodrama-free performance by soprano Rena Harms as Bea the daughter.” – Shepherd Express
“As the story’s scorned single lady, Elvira is just as outraged as Anna, but in her own way. She’s out for revenge and takes it by showing up at all the wrong moments to foil Don Giovanni’s attempts at further seductions. Both roles call for intense performances, and both received them in this production. Elvira’s anguish sears the scenes in which she appears; there’s raw emotion in her angular interjections.” – Santa Barbara Independent
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