Friends team up for ‘Madama Butterfly’

‘Madama Butterfly” is a heartbreaker of an opera. Before its devastating final scene, the heroine Cio-Cio-San suffers every form of betrayal from those she loves and trusts.

But there is one relationship that stays true from beginning to end: the enduring bond between the wronged geisha and her loyal friend and servant Suzuki.

Realistically creating that sisterly connection onstage won’t be very difficult in the San Diego Opera’s production of the Giacomo Puccini classic, which opens Saturday. The women playing those roles — Latonia Moore as Cio-Cio-San and J’nai Bridges as Suzuki — have been friends for years, deeply admire each other’s work and are so comfortable together they can practically finish each other’s sentences.

Raised in Lakewood, Wash., Bridges also sang in church as a girl, but unlike Moore, her voice never suited the demands of gospel music. Instead she found her groove as a classical singer when she was a basketball-playing senior in high school ... Her facility at winning contests — she gives credit to her athletic training, which helps her perform well under pressure — put her on the map with a lot of artistic directors and conductors, who have booked her for many upcoming roles through mid-2017.

The San Diego Union-Tribune

The American singers both found their musical roots in the black church singing gospel, they both went to graduate school in Philadelphia, they both launched their careers singing in prize competitions, and they both love to let loose singing karaoke (Moore loves ’80s rockers like Pat Benatar, while Bridges prefers soul singers like Toni Braxton). And this year, both women are having major career breakthroughs.

Read the entire feature here.

Image by Bill Wechter