For years this has been the benchmark Butterfly (perhaps tied with Callas', but all other things being equal, truly better), and re-hearing it now, it still is. If there is one flaw it is Barbirolli's conducting; he almost loves the score too much, and his lingering occasionally makes you feel that the action lacks impetus. But the upside of that is the gorgeous orchestral detail; it's easy to forget how well orchestrated this opera is, and Barbirolli reminds us.
Elsewhere the performance can't be faulted: Renata Scotto was at the peak of her vocal powers in 1966, with beautiful pianissimos as well as every other dynamic, and a voice whose top had not yet turned acidic. As anRead more interpretation, she gets Butterfly magnificently. She never overdoes the little-girlness, and the pathetic 18-year-old "I-won't-go-back-to-being-a-geisha" monolog never dissolves into tears, but rather ends with a quiet, resigned, and utterly heartrending "Morta!". Even in the final scene she refuses to cheapen with effects; her vocal color and phrasing tell the story perfectly.
Carlo Bergonzi, too, is at his honeyed best, with the voice beautifully produced from top to bottom, and if he misses Gigli's playfulness in Act 1, well, too bad: his last act is ravishing. Rolando Panerai's Sharpless is well-drawn, and he's very effective in the catastrophic second-act conversation with Butterfly. Anna di Stasio sings Suzuki sympathetically, blending well with Scotto in the Flower Duet. The sound is superb. This is a study in sadness that can't be beat. [11/9/2002]
--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Madama Butterflyby Giacomo Puccini Performer:
Silvana Padoan (Mezzo Soprano),
Renata Scotto (Soprano),
Carlo Bergonzi (Tenor),
Rolando Panerai (Baritone),
Anna di Stasio (Mezzo Soprano),
Piero de Palma (Tenor),
Giuseppe Morresi (Bass Baritone),
Paolo Montarsolo (Bass),
Mario Rinaudo (Bass)
Sir John Barbirolli
Rome Opera House Orchestra,
Rome Opera House Chorus
Period: Romantic Written: 1904; Italy Date of Recording: 08/1966 Venue: Opera Theater, Rome, Italy Length: 142 Minutes 7 Secs. Language: Italian
Madama Butterfly (2002 Digital Remaster), Act 1: E soffitto...e pareti (Pinkerton/Goro)
Madama Butterfly (2002 Digital Remaster), Act 1: Questa è la cameriera (Goro/Pinkerton/Suzuki)
Madama Butterfly (2002 Digital Remaster), Act 1: Che guardi?...Se non giunge ancor la sposa (Pinkerton/Goro/Sharpless)
Madama Butterfly (2002 Digital Remaster), Act 1: Dovunque al mondo (Pinkerton/Goro/Sharpless)
Madama Butterfly (2002 Digital Remaster), Act 1: Quale amania vi prende! (Sharpless/Pinkerton)
Madama Butterfly (2002 Digital Remaster), Act 1: Ecco! Son giunte al sommo del pendio (Goro/Coro/Butterfly/Sharpless)
Madama Butterfly (2002 Digital Remaster), Act 1: Gran ventura (Butterfly/Coro/Pinkerton/Sharpless/Goro)
Madama Butterfly (2002 Digital Remaster), Act 1: L'imperial Commissario (Butterfly/Coro/Pinkerton/Sharpless/Goro)
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