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Puccini: Madame Butterfly
Gianandrea Gavazzeri, Opera Theater Of Rome Orchestra, Opera Theater Of Rome Chorus
Puccini: Madame Butterfly
Genre: Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (18) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (18) - Disc #2

De los Angeles never slips into the false coyness or tear-jerking excesses that afflict many other Butterflys. Her gorgeous lyric soprano and affecting directness make her a moving heroine, one of the finest Butterflys on ...  more »

      
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All Artists: Gianandrea Gavazzeri, Opera Theater Of Rome Orchestra, Opera Theater Of Rome Chorus
Title: Puccini: Madame Butterfly
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Testament UK
Release Date: 11/24/1998
Album Type: Import
Genre: Classical
Style: Opera & Classical Vocal
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPC: 749677216825

Synopsis

Amazon.com
De los Angeles never slips into the false coyness or tear-jerking excesses that afflict many other Butterflys. Her gorgeous lyric soprano and affecting directness make her a moving heroine, one of the finest Butterflys on record. She recorded the role again, but this is the one to go for since de los Angeles is partnered by Di Stefano, whose melting tenor catches Pinkerton's swagger as well as his honeyed warmth. The de los Angeles-Di Stefano partnership makes the love duet unforgettable. Gavazenni conducts with forward momentum and passion, and Tito Gobbi's Sharpless is another big plus. Testament's refurbishment of the 1954 mono recording is excellent. This one's right up there with other great Butterflys by Tebaldi, Callas, and Scotto. --Dan Davis

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CD Reviews

A ?Butterfly? Shorn of ?Tradition?
madamemusico | Cincinnati, Ohio USA | 03/15/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"When Giacomo Puccini premiered "Madame Butterfly" in February 1904, a performance that failed due to a hostile, anti-Puccini audience, the opera was conducted by Arturo Toscanini. When the work was revised and reintroduced in May 1904, the conductor was again Toscanini. In 1910, the composer came to the Metropolitan Opera in New York to hear Toscanini conduct it once more. Puccini wrote "Girl of the Golden West" specifically for the Met and Toscanini. He even specified in his will that no one but Toscanini was to conduct the world premiere of his last opera, "Turandot" (which he did).The reason I mention all of this is to indicate that Toscanini was Puccini's favorite conductor of his scores. The reason he liked Toscanini was that the conductor pulled together disparate musical elements to produce a cohesive whole, with tension, elasticity and great attention to orchestral detail. In other words, he did not sentimentalize this already sentimental music; he did not allow the singers to over-dramatize in a way that overshadowed the structure of the score.Though Toscanini did not officially record "Butterfly," there exists a 1928 recording of the opera with soprano Rosetta Pampanini and an orchestra and chorus meticulously rehearsed by Toscanini for performances at La Scala; thus, even though Lorenzo Molajoli's name is on the label, this is often considered the "Toscanini Butterfly." Unfortunately, the poor sonics of that era do not allow one to hear textures very clearly, and the inevitable "side breaks" of the 78-rpm era make for some uncomfortable cuts and splices.This 1954 recording conducted by Gavazzeni, who greatly admired Toscanini and his approach, goes a long way toward presenting the opera as MUSIC, not melodrama. Taking the marked, faster tempi that most conductors avoid, he gives us a first act that is positively bucolic in its synergy, and in the long, terrible, inexorable Act 2, he does not allow one excess gulp, sob or over-accented word from his singers. In the meantime, he also brings out all the Oriental flavor of the orchestration that Puccini put into it, more so than any other conductor; and his three principals-de los Angeles, di Stefano and Gobbi-sing with a beauty of tone and attention to line that is remarkable. Many times during the first part of Act 2, the soprano's tone was so effortless, so golden, that I was reminded of a comment that tenor Tito Schipa once made: "Put the words on the lips, and let the breath run them out." Yet for all the exceptional solo singing, the most stunning moment of this recording comes in the "Humming Chorus." Gavazzeni has so perfectly balanced his orchestra and chorus that they give the aural impression of fireflies.A word of caution, however: because this is a monophonic recording, the singers are all miked exceptionally forward. This means that one should NOT play it at a loud volume, otherwise it will sound harsh and shrill. Keep it at a moderate listening level, and you will discover a "Butterfly" unlike any other, a swirling mélange of musical elements that envelops the listener in its own special sauce. Shorn of slow tempi, bombast and vocal hysterics, "Madame Butterfly" is indeed the magical world Puccini intended it to be."
The Best Butterfly On Record
madamemusico | 02/01/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The now late Victoria De Los Angeles was an amazing Madame Butterfly on stage and this album is not only a tribute to the deceased artist but a truly remarkable example of lyric splendor without the sacrifice of drama. In Victoria De Los Angeles, we have the real, true Butterfly of Puccini's invention. She doesn't overdo it like most sopranos in her day did. She didn't do the virginal coyness ad nauseum in the first parts, nor does she reach melodramatic hysteria in the latter scenes. It is true that most of the so-called "greater" Butterflys have been the heavier sopranos of Maria Callas, Leontine Price, Renata Tebaldi and Renata Scotto. But De Los Angeles portrays the real Butterfly in cutting down on the hyperdramatic singing. She is purely lyric and purely passionate. She takes on the role as realistically and humanly as possible. Very few sopranos do this. But in truth, the role ought to be performed by lyric voices- Anna Moffo was another "true Butterfly, as was Mirella Freni and in recent years, well, 90's, it was the Korean soprano Ying Huang who appeared in Frederic Mitterand's gorgeous film.

Victoria makes a fine Butterfly and keeps her "young, lyric and light". She is supposed to be fifteen, and naively in love with the careless and shallow Pinkerton. She shines in such scenes as the duet after "Viena La Serra", in "Un Bel Di Vedremo" and her Entrance Aria "Quanto Cielo". Opposite this fine soprano is tenor Giuseppe Di Stefano, living up to his own hype. He was fabulous as the romantic lead and was always electrifying when paired with Callas (his Cavaradossi is still considered the truest portrayal). As Pinkerton, he indeed takes on the role as believably as De Los Angeles does with her Butterfly. He comes off as careless, deceiving, youthful and arrogant. Puccini never intended to portray Americans as cowards and cads. It was essential that the tenor part was a careless and arrogant man in order to more effectively bring out the suffering of the tragic heroine of Butterfly. He was the "trap" and she was the butterfly prey, its that simple. Di Stefano makes a romantic portrayal but in there you can tell there's as cad. Tito Gobbi as Sharpless is another good performance. Gobbi is always talked about positively in every role he undertook.

Buy this great version of Butterfly. It's worth its weight in gold. But if you want to seek out other "true" versions, look for the following. In VIDEO/DVD: Mitterand's film starring the wonderfully believable Ying Huang and tenor Richard Troxell. From an earlier time, soprano Anna Moffo as Madame Butterfly shot in black and white. In RECORDING/ALBUMS: Look for Mirella Freni as Butterfly. As a fantasy of mine, I wish so much that lyric coloratura soprano Sumi Jo would sing Madame Butterfly. Her Asian roots in Korea would make her as believable as Ying Huang not to mention her beautiful and silvery voice. Also, Renee Fleming would make a gorgeous and tragic Butterfly. Kiri Te Kenawa would have made a fine Butterfly, too, but she never did. Beverly Sills, too would have delivered a good performance."
De los Angeles and Di Stefano, what more could you ask for.
madamemusico | 12/22/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Magnificent, de los Angeles is the perfect Butterfly, Di Stefano the perfect Pinkerton - Throw in Tito Gobbi and you have a Madame Butterfly without peer."