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Puccini: Madama Butterfly Highlights / Barbirolli, Scotto


Release Date: 11/20/2007 
Label:  Emi Classics For Pleasure Catalog #: 93370   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Silvana PadoanRenata ScottoRolando PaneraiCarlo Bergonzi,   ... 
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House OrchestraRome Opera House Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 54 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Already well stocked with Butterflies? An excellent buy if you want samples of two of the finest Italian singers of 40 years ago.

Highlights discs like the present one can be quite frustrating. As soon as one gets involved in the drama we come to the end of the excerpt. More often than not this is in the middle of an act and the music is faded down. It is a blessing to find at least two longer stretches of continuous music on this disc: the duet between Pinkerton and Butterfly from act I. I just wish it had started even earlier, at Pinkerton’s Viene la sera, since Bergonzi sings his role so marvellously. Then comes a sequence in act II from Pinkerton’s short farewell Addio, fiorito asil until Butterfly’s death. In both
Read more cases there is a natural end-of-act.

It may seem unfair first of all to apostrophize the tenor in what is after all a soprano’s opera, but Carlo Bergonzi was in tremendous form, lyrical and ardent. He was probably the best Pinkerton on record, and I have not left out of the reckoning Gedda, Pavarotti or Björling. Björling, in his last complete opera was already marked by the heart-defect that took his life a year later. Bergonzi recorded the role several years earlier for Decca against Tebaldi and with Serafin conducting – also a recommendable set. This one is special on account of Sir John’s lovingly attentive conducting. As far as I can remember his only other opera recordings were Dido and Aeneas with Victoria de los Angeles and Otello with Gwyneth Jones, James McCracken and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. It is through this Butterfly that he is best remembered as an opera conductor. Barbirolli could be idiosyncratic, especially during his last years, but such was his commitment and love for the music that he almost always brought off even the most dangerously slow tempos. The Adagietto from Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 is a famous example of this and so are many memorable moments in this recording: the cherry blossom duet, the Humming Chorus and also the Pinkerton – Butterfly duet in act 1.

In Renata Scotto he has a Butterfly of exceptional sensitivity and insight. When Scotto made her operatic debut, aged 18, she first sang Violetta. Her second role was Madama Butterfly. After numerous performances over a period of almost fourteen years she was deeply inside the part by the time this recording was made and her voice was still in excellent shape. She was still mainly a lyrical soprano but early on showed such dramatic potential that it’s no wonder she gradually took on heavier roles like Tosca and Norma. I have a companion disc (Nabucco highlights) to the present one, recorded twelve years later, and it is instructive to notice how this kind of repertoire affected her voice. As Butterfly she has something of the bite and edge of Callas, and this was to develop during years to come. She has her moments of penetrating tone and a less than ideally controlled vibrato – listen to Un bel di vedremo – but the sensitive phrasing and feeling silences criticism. Her final scene, before her suicide, is truly heartrending.

The choice of excerpts concentrates on her rendering of the title role and leaves the rest of the cast – apart from Bergonzi – very much in the shadows. We hear a snippet of Rolando Panerai’s Sharpless and Anna di Stasio in the Cherry Blossom duet shows what a fine singer she was. The Rome Opera Chorus are soft and beautiful in the Humming Chorus. The vintage 1960s recording is atmospheric and the only adverse criticism I have is the parsimonious playing time. On the other hand the disc is inexpensive. No texts and translations but at least we get a cued synopsis.

The complete opera is now in EMI’s medium prices GROC series with full documentation. This must always be a first recommendation, but for readers who are already well stocked with Butterflies but want to have samples of two of the finest Italian singers of forty years ago, this is an excellent buy.

-- Göran Forsling, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Madama Butterfly: Spira sul mar [Entrance of Butterfly] by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Silvana Padoan (Mezzo Soprano), Renata Scotto (Soprano), Rolando Panerai (Baritone),
Carlo Bergonzi (Tenor)
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra,  Rome Opera House Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Italy 
Date of Recording: 08/1966 
Venue:  Opera House, Rome, Italy 
Length: 3 Minutes 48 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
Notes: This selection starts with "Quanto cielo!...Ancora un passo or via...." 
2.
Madama Butterfly: Viene la sera...Bimba dagli occhi pieni by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Renata Scotto (Soprano), Silvana Padoan (Mezzo Soprano), Carlo Bergonzi (Tenor),
Rolando Panerai (Baritone)
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra,  Rome Opera House Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Italy 
Date of Recording: 08/1966 
Venue:  Opera House, Rome, Italy 
Length: 11 Minutes 38 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
3.
Madama Butterfly: Un bel dì vedremo by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Renata Scotto (Soprano), Rolando Panerai (Baritone), Carlo Bergonzi (Tenor),
Silvana Padoan (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra,  Rome Opera House Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Italy 
Date of Recording: 08/1966 
Venue:  Opera House, Rome, Italy 
Length: 4 Minutes 40 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
4.
Madama Butterfly: Che tua madre dovrà prenderti in braccio by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Silvana Padoan (Mezzo Soprano), Rolando Panerai (Baritone), Carlo Bergonzi (Tenor),
Renata Scotto (Soprano)
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra,  Rome Opera House Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Italy 
Date of Recording: 08/1966 
Venue:  Opera House, Rome, Italy 
Length: 5 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
Notes: This selection starts with "E questo? E questo?...." 
5.
Madama Butterfly: Scuoti quella fronda "Flower Duet" by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Silvana Padoan (Mezzo Soprano), Carlo Bergonzi (Tenor), Rolando Panerai (Baritone),
Renata Scotto (Soprano), Anna di Stasio (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra,  Rome Opera House Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Italy 
Date of Recording: 08/1966 
Venue:  Opera House, Rome, Italy 
Length: 5 Minutes 21 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
6.
Madama Butterfly: Humming Chorus by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Carlo Bergonzi (Tenor), Silvana Padoan (Mezzo Soprano), Rolando Panerai (Baritone),
Renata Scotto (Soprano)
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra,  Rome Opera House Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Italy 
Date of Recording: 08/1966 
Venue:  Opera House, Rome, Italy 
Length: 3 Minutes 24 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
7.
Madama Butterfly: Verrà...Verrà by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Silvana Padoan (Mezzo Soprano), Carlo Bergonzi (Tenor), Rolando Panerai (Baritone),
Renata Scotto (Soprano), Anna di Stasio (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra,  Rome Opera House Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Italy 
Date of Recording: 08/1966 
Venue:  Opera House, Rome, Italy 
Length: 2 Minutes 1 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
8.
Madama Butterfly: Addio, fiorito asil by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Rolando Panerai (Baritone), Carlo Bergonzi (Tenor), Anna di Stasio (Mezzo Soprano),
Renata Scotto (Soprano), Silvana Padoan (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra,  Rome Opera House Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Italy 
Date of Recording: 08/1966 
Venue:  Opera House, Rome, Italy 
Length: 18 Minutes 12 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
Notes: This selection continues with "Glielo dirai?...Che vuol da me?...Come una mosca prigioniera...Con onor muore...," to the end of the opera. 

Sound Samples

Madama Butterfly - Opera in two acts (1986 Digital Remaster), Act I: Quanto cielo!....Ancora un passo or via (Coro/Butterfly/Sharpless)
Madama Butterfly - Opera in two acts (1986 Digital Remaster), Act I: Bimba dagli occhi pieni di malìa
Madama Butterfly - Opera in two acts (1986 Digital Remaster), Act II: Un bel dì vedremo (Butterfly)
Madama Butterfly - Opera in two acts (1986 Digital Remaster), Act II: E questo? e questo? (Sharpless/Butterfly)
Madama Butterfly - Opera in two acts (1986 Digital Remaster), Act II: Scuoti quella fronda di ciliegio
Madama Butterfly - Opera in two acts (1986 Digital Remaster), Act II: Humming Chorus
Madama Butterfly (1986 Digital Remaster): Verra, verra (Butterfly, Suzuki)
Madama Butterfly (1986 Digital Remaster): Addio, fiorito asil....Glielo dirai?.....Con onor muore (Pinkerton, sharpless, Kate, Suzuki, Butterfly)

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