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Puccini: Madama Butterfly / Neuhold, Et Al


Release Date: 05/21/2002 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8660078-79   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Elisabeth BungeFredrika BrillemburgHeikki KilpelainenUwe Eikötter,   ... 
Conductor:  Günter Neuhold
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bremen State Philharmonic OrchestraBremen Theater Chorus
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 20 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

In 1996, Vox released a 4-CD set that included this, the original La Scala fiasco version of Madama Butterfly, as well as Puccini's revisions for Brescia and Paris. It was a fascinating release and fans of the opera immediately realized what had been wrong with the first version: The first act contained far too much "local color" in the form of music for Butterfly's relatives (there's even a drinking song for her uncle Yakuside), and the 90-minute last act, in addition to simply being too long in general, dragged out the overnight vigil, too abruptly went into Butterfly's lullaby to her child, and wasted an extra couple of minutes between Butterfly's final lines and her suicide--what on earth could she be doing? Puccini later Read more trimmed away a great deal of fat, altered many, many notes and tonalities (it's a delight, actually, to note the differences), added Pinkerton's rueful "Addio fiorito asil" as well as Butterfly's heartbreaking recognition of Kate Pinkerton, and much more. (The ultimate "Ah! Morte!" at the close of her pathetic second-act narrative to Sharpless was an afterthought as well; originally her vision of returning to life as a geisha ends softly and less desperately.)

This is a very well sung performance. Bulgarian soprano Svetlana Katchour is a big lyric (going on spinto) with an attractive sound, her pitch is dead-center, the voice is well and evenly produced, and when her Italian isn't garbled, it's not bad. Her Butterfly is severely undercharacterized, however: she seems a bit shy in Act 1 and pretty unhappy in Act 2, but she never truly moves us as the greatest Butterflys (such as Dal Monte, Scotto, or Callas) do. Pity--the voice is marvelous. Tenor Bruce Rankin, having to make Pinkerton nothing but a cad (without his final, sympathetic aria), does so very well. His also is a lyric voice, but the sound is appealing, the technique in place, and a lively mind is clearly behind his interpretation. It will be nice to hear more of him.


Fredrika Brillemburg's Suzuki is right there with Butterfly, sympathetically and with nice tone in the Flower Duet. Baritone Heikki Kilpeläinen sounds very young for Sharpless, but it's a quality voice. Gunter Neuhold takes six minutes less in the first and 10 minutes less in the second act than Charles Rosekrans on Vox, and the latter hardly lags. I must admit that even though things occasionally do seem rushed on Naxos at 57 and 82 minutes respectively (per act), perhaps getting through them somewhat quickly is not such a bad idea. The Bremen Orchestra is very good, the chorus less so. Naxos' sound is excellent. The Vox performance featured an okay cast--no more. This new Naxos set is the one to own if you want the original, and fans of the opera (particularly at Naxos' price), will need this.
--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Elisabeth Bunge (), Fredrika Brillemburg (Mezzo Soprano), Heikki Kilpelainen (Baritone),
Uwe Eikötter (Tenor), Kristen Strejc (Soprano), Loren Christopher Lang (Bass Baritone),
Andreas Haller (Bass Baritone), Daniel Ratchev (), Armin Kolarczyz (Bass),
Bruce Rankin (Tenor), Karsten Kusters (), Birgit Binnewies (),
Laura Pedersen (), Gustavo Brillemburg (), Swetlana Katchur (Soprano)
Conductor:  Günter Neuhold
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bremen State Philharmonic Orchestra,  Bremen Theater Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Italy 
Language: Italian 
Notes: Ver: 1904 

Sound Samples

Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act I: E soffitto ... e pareti
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act I: Questa č la cameriera
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act I: Dovunque al mondo
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act I: Ed č bella la sposa?
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act I: Ah! Quanto cielo! quanto mar!
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act I: Gran Ventura ... Riverenza
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act I: Ma ho degli altri parenti
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act I: L'Imperial Commissario e l'Ufficiale
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act I: Qui signor Ufficiale
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act I: Lo zio Yakusidé
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act I: All'amor mio!
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act I: Ieri sono salita
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act I: Tutti zitti!
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act I: Qua, signor Zio. Il bicchier della staffa.
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act I: All'ombra d'un Kekě
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act I: Cio-Cio-San! ... Cio-Cio-San!
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act I: Bimba, Bimba, non piangere
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act I: Viene la sera...
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act I: Vogliatemi bene
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act II: Introduction
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act II: E Izaghi ed Izanami
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act II: Un bel dě
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act II: C'č. Entrate.
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act II: Mio marito m'ha promesso
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act II: Ora a noi. Qui sedete.
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act II: Due cose potrei fare
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act II: E questo? ... e questo?
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act II: Che tua madre dovrŕ
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act II: Vien sera. Io scendo...
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act II: Vespa! Rospo maledetto!
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act II: Il cannon del porto!
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act II: Il conto qual sia
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act II: Or vienmi ad adornar
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act II: Nello shosi or farem tre forellini
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act II: Humming Chorus
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act II: Intermezzo
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act II: Dawn
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act II: Dormi amor mio
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act II: Chi sia?
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act II: Io so che alle sue pene
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act II: Non ve l'ho detto?
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act II: Suzuki! ... Suzuki! ... Dove sei?
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act II: Vespa! Voglio che tu risponda
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act II: L'amico mio mi diede
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act II: Come una mosca prigioniera
Madama Butterfly (1904 version): Act II: Con onor muore

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