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Puccini: Madama Butterfly
Giuseppe Verdi, La Scala Theater Orchestra, Toti Dal Monte
Puccini: Madama Butterfly
Genres: Pop, Classical
  •  Track Listings (21) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (21) - Disc #2


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CD Reviews

An unforgettable Cio-Cio-San.
John Austin | Kangaroo Ground, Australia | 08/27/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"In its day, this remarkable set was the best-recorded opera in the catalogue. Microphones were sensitive enough to pick up not only the occasional Alfa Romeo accelerating past the Rome Opera House but also some "magical" moments, principally just before the Humming Chorus, when you'll feel yourself pulled into a tragic early evening in Nagasaki in a way that will send shivers down the spine. Naxos have recaptured all this in their budget priced reissue of this 1939 recording. Producer Fred Gaisberg was keen to record Beniamino Gigli in a series of complete opera recordings. Gigli's Pinkerton proved to be Gigli's best recorded role. Toti dal Monte won the coveted role of Butterfly, possibly because she was a much-loved exponent of the part, she was a favourite colleague of Gigli's, and her voice was not unlike that of Rosina Storchio who Puccini chose to create the role. Her assumption of the part is extraordinary. She colours and characterizes her voice, clearly suggesting a fifteen year old girl at her entry and leaving you in no doubt thereafter about whom she is talking to. The voice itself is often piercing in its upper register, however, and sounds frayed at times beyond the requirements of dramatic characterization.The minor parts are well cast, with voices clearly differentiated. Mario Basiola, whom I saw in my own first "Butterfly", is a convincing Sharpless, a non-committed official at first, but clearly angry and frustrated when attempting to read Pinkerton's letter to Cio-Cio-San in Act Two. Vittoria Palombini brings an unforgettable "doom-laden" voice to the part of Suzuki. Oliviero de Fabrittiis pushes the drama along at a rapid pace.Included with this set is a string of arias recorded by Toti dal Monte, about ten years earlier. Here you will find beautiful, legato singing of the best Italian tradition."
Great stars in fine pre-war performance
L. E. Cantrell | Vancouver, British Columbia Canada | 05/10/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I wish to expound on the brilliance of the two principals in this recording. The fifty-ish Gigli, as he usually does in his complete recordings, sounds twenty-ish in voice, and about seventeen in emotional development. Unlike the cad/fool Pinkerton most tenors provide, Gigli portrays a boy/man who simply oblivious to the concept of consequences. To those who know Gigli only from his recital recordings, Gigli in complete performance will come as a surprise. The sheer, robust verve provided by the man in dramatic performance--as here in "Madama Butterfly", or in "Tosca", in "Pagliacci" and especially in "Un ballo in maschera"--is a thing wholly different from his mannered singing of the recitals. The sheer, golden sound he makes is convincing proof that those who place him second only to Caruso are perfectly correct.(A note to sensitive souls: yes, he scoops; no, he does not slavishly follow every note and marking in the printed score. So, what? He follows the performing conventions of his time, not those of ours. And, by heaven, he gives a better overall performance than his DDD-era successors.)Toti dal Monte, alas, is captured somewhat late in her career but her take on Cio-Cio San is absolutely spot-on, even though it exists in a world different from that of Freni or Tebaldi and an entirely different universe from Callas. She fills the requirements of the fiendishly difficult Puccini role so completely that without prior knowledge one would never guess that she had long been famous as Lucia and Norina.Naxos has filled out disk 2 of the set with dal Monte recordings from the 1920s and early 30s. Listen to Sul d'un soffio eteso, Nanetta's aria from the second act of Falstaff to hear the only singer ever to give Anna Moffo a run for the money in that part. Then hear Tornami a dir che m'ami, from Don Pasquale (sung with Tito Schipa); it is not to be equaled anywhere."
Exquisite Listening Experience....Bonus Tracks Included
L. Shirley | fountain valley, ca United States | 05/18/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"What a beautiful and moving recording of "Madama Butterfly". Originally recorded shortly before World War II, it has been restored to a most impressive CD edition from Naxos Hstorical.

Giacomo Puccini's tale of Butterfly, a young Japanese woman's deep and unending love for B.F. Pinkerton, the American soldier, who married her for a short time of passion and then left her under the guise of returning in the Spring to take her back to America. Butterfly gives up all that is sacred to her; her religion, her traditions, and is even shunned by her family, in the belief that her love will someday return to her. She waits years, each day hoping this will be the one her love returns to her.

It's a touching tragedy, and the listening experience is absolutely exquisite. The chorus and orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Rome, conducted by Oliviero de Fabritiis is incredible. The music fills the room and your soul with beauty as it tells the story. Toti Dal Monte is Butterfly. Through her emotional portrayal, there is not an emotion that Butterfly has that you won't feel.From her happiness to her despair, her voice is magnificent and may move you to tears.Beniamino Gigli is excellent as Pinkerton as well. A marvelous supporting cast brings the story to life.

This is my favorite recording of Butterfly. I highly recommend it for lovers of this Italian Opera. I would also recommend for those who love a good introduction to opera. Be careful, this one may hook you gor good!

Considering the age of this production(1939), I think it sounds wonderful. We are fortunate to be able to listen to it on this superb restoration. It is a 2 disc set(lift center holder to get to disc 2), each disc running over 70 minutes.In 2 acts, the first act and half of the second act are on disc one. On disc two, is the 2nd half of the 2nd act. But the music doesn't end there. You will also be treated to more wonderful selections by Dal Monte(8 extra tracks in all).Bellini and Verdi among them. For a list of complete tracks, see buying info and click on see all tracks. 15-22 on disc 2 are the extra tracks. The CD includes a booklet with a list of the music, a brief bios of Puccini,Dal Monte and Gigli, a description of every scene, and a bit about Ward Marston who is the producer of this restoration. Bravo, Mr. Marston!


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