You’d never guess from watching her, but Kristine Opolais says that while she’s singing her heart out as Madame Butterfly she asks herself: “Oh, why, for what, all this suffering?” And when it’s over, she thinks: “I’m finished with this role, because it takes everything.”

“But then, the reaction of the audience, it all comes back to me,” she added. “Next morning I have a reason, because I’m happy.”

The Latvian soprano stars in the Metropolitan Opera’s HD broadcast on Saturday of Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly,” the tragic story of a 15-year-old geisha in love with an American sailor who abandons her, leaving her with a child and the vain hope that he will return. Instead, he shows up at the end with an American wife to take their son away.

What makes Butterfly so rewarding to portray, Opolais said in an interview, is that she’s “a complete woman.”

“She’s not only a beautiful Japanese girl,” Opolais said. “We must show why Pinkerton fell in love with her. Everything is in her. She’s brilliant, interesting, open-minded, with humor. And a mother. She’s everything that men can only dream of.”

Read the entire feature via The Washington Post.

Image: Marty Sohl / The Metropolitan Opera