Japan, early twentieth century. U.S. Navy Lieutenant B.F. Pinkerton inspects the house he has leased from a marriage broker. The broker, Goro, has procured him three servants and a geisha wife, Cio-Cio-San, known as Madama Butterfly. He is enchanted with the fragile Cio-Cio-San. Cio-Cio-San is heard in the distance joyously singing of her wedding. In a quiet moment, Cio-Cio-San shows her bridegroom her few earthly treasures and tells him of her intention to embrace his Christian faith. The Imperial Commissioner performs the wedding ceremony, and the guests toast the couple. The celebration is interrupted by Cio-Cio-San's uncle, a Buddhist priest, who bursts in, cursing the girl for having renounced her ancestors' religion. Alone with Cio-Cio-San in the moonlit garden, her husband dries her tears, and she joins him in singing of their love.
Matthew, a young advertising executive in Chicago, puts his life and a business trip to China on hold when he thinks he sees Lisa, the love of his life who left him without a word two years earlier, walking out of a restaurant one day.
When the teenager Mary Elizabeth Steppe, a.k.a. Lola, moves with her mother and two younger twin sisters from New York to the suburb of Dellwood, New Jersey, she has the feeling that her cultural and entertaining world ended.
Raise Your Voice is a coming-of-age story centered around a small-town singer, brokenhearted by the death of her brother in a car crash, who had secretly submitted her for a summer session at a performing arts academy in Los Angeles.