"For so popular an opera Butterfly has been meanly treated on CD so far, but in every way except one the transfer of Karajan's radiant Vienna recording for Decca, made in 1974, could hardly provide a firmer recommendation...Economically the spread on to three discs is regretable, but it does at least allow each act to be self-contained on a single disc, and for such a performance as this no extravagance is too much.
Movingly dramatic as Renata Scotto is on both the Maazel version and the LP reissue of the Barbirolli/EMI set, Mirella Freni is even more compelling. The voice is fresher, firmer and more girlish, with more light and shade at such points as ''Un bel di'', and there is an element of vulnerability that intensifies theRead more communication. In that, I imagine, Karajan played a big part, just as he must have done in presenting Luciano Pavarotti—not quite the super-star he is today but already with a will of his own in the recording studio—as a Pinkerton of exceptional subtlety, not just a roistering cad but in his way an endearing figure in the First Act. Significantly CD brings out the delicacy of the vocal balances in Act 1 with the voices deliberately distanced for much of the time, making such passages as ''Vienna la sera'' and ''Bimba dagli occhi'' the more magical in their delicacy. Karajan, both in that duet and later in the Flower duet of Act 2, draws ravishing playing from the Vienna Philharmonic strings, getting them to imitate the portamento of the singers in what is also an echt-Viennes manner, ravishing to the ear."
Madama Butterflyby Giacomo Puccini Performer:
Christa Ludwig (Mezzo Soprano),
Wolfgang Schneider (Bass),
Luciano Pavarotti (Tenor),
Mirella Freni (Soprano),
Giorgio Stendoro (Baritone),
Siegfried Rudolf Frese (Baritone),
Elke Schary (Mezzo Soprano),
Evamaria Hurdes (Soprano),
Erna Maria Mühlberger (Soprano),
Martha Heigl (Soprano),
Marius Rintzler (Bass),
Hans Helm (Bass),
Robert Kerns (Baritone),
Michel Sénéchal (Tenor)
Herbert von Karajan
Vienna State Opera Chorus,
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: 1904; Italy Date of Recording: 01/1974 Venue: Sofia Hall, Vienna, Austria Length: 145 Minutes 0 Secs. Language: Italian
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
Great RecordingJanuary 31, 2014By Henry S. (Springfield, VA)See All My Reviews"Herbert von Karajan's 1974 recording of Puccini's Madama Butterfly is excellence personified. With Mirella Freni as Butterfly, Christa Ludwig as Suzuki, Robert Kraus as Sharpless, and Luciano Pavarotti as Pinkerton, Puccini's great tragedy sears the listener with passionate, powerful singing of great beauty and conviction. The Vienna State Opera Chorus provides excellent support throughout the work, and of course there is the incredibly majestic sound of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Maestro Karajan's magical touch with the VPO is nowhere more evident than here in this recording, with the orchestra's sensually lush orchestral score making the libretto so effective and attractive. This is a big, powerful Madama Butterfly, yet filled with emotional shades of hope, despair, courage, and love, at which times the delicate touch of conductor and orchestra is in full evidence. Certainly there are other excellent Butterfly recordings available, but in my view they would be hard pressed indeed to surpass the supreme artistic merit of this outstanding Decca set. Don't miss it!"Report Abuse
An orchestral operaMay 17, 2012By David L. (Chicago, IL)See All My Reviews"As could be expected with Karajan, the orchestra is the dominant performer, with a range of color and force that far exceeds the norm in Italian opera. Nonetheless, the performance is very effective: Pavarotti's young voice is appropriate for the role, Freni sounds a bit too old, but her singing is lovely. All the secondary roles are excellent. This is Puccini that wouldn't be out of place at Bayreuth, but that is a unique achievement in itself."Report Abuse
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