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70 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Puppets? What puppets?
Since I generally prefer traditional productions, I was somewhat skeptical as I sat down to watch and hear Anthony Minghella's production of the most performed opera in the Unites States, and perhaps the world - Madama Butterfly. Adding to my concern and curiosity was the advertised use of puppetry in this Metropolitan Opera HD series event. Let me come right to the...
Published on June 5, 2011 by Cy Reese

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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Butterfly for misinformed tourist
I am very disappointed with this Butterfly, one of my most cherished operas.
The acting and direction are so primitive that is almost amateur in the worst ways... not a single new idea. Near this production the Metropolitan Opera Minghella's oeuvre is a masterwork. Why put this on Blu-ray at full price? The taping has great resolution, worst for the singers, whose...
Published on August 14, 2011 by Andres Santos Jr.


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70 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Puppets? What puppets?, June 5, 2011
By 
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This review is from: Puccini: Madama Butterfly (DVD)
Since I generally prefer traditional productions, I was somewhat skeptical as I sat down to watch and hear Anthony Minghella's production of the most performed opera in the Unites States, and perhaps the world - Madama Butterfly. Adding to my concern and curiosity was the advertised use of puppetry in this Metropolitan Opera HD series event. Let me come right to the point in this critique: this opera pulls you in! I was totally mesmerized and after three beautiful hours, felt like I should feel after hearing and viewing an opera. My reaction is not surprising when I review the different facets of this production:
(1) THE SETS: yes, they are minimalist, but, when you think about it, this is one opera which doesn't really need elaborate sets; most of the drama occurs inside a Japanese house, which does indeed make use of sliding screens. The use of these screens in this production was actually quite clever and did reinforce the notion that the setting is Japan.
(2) COSTUMES: credited to Han Feng; just a glorious display of color. Easily, the best costuming I've seen in any production of this opera, at least, those available on DVD.
(3) THE MUSIC: Maestro Patrick Summers conducts a flawless performance of the Met's Orchestra; the music never overpowers the singers and yet, reaches our ears with the power to move us as the composer intended. Puccini would have applauded.
(4) THE SINGERS: Let's begin with the title role. Cio-Cio-San (Butterfly) can be compared with that of Juliet in "Romeo and Juliet". Ideally, one would cast a mid-teen young lady, and yet, to date, there has never been a young female actress/singer capable of expressing all the emotions that their character calls for. In the PAST world of opera, one had to be content with a soprano up to the demands of a role such as Madama Butterfly, that calls for an almost continuous stage presence from the middle of the first act until the end of the third and final act. Historically, singing ability was the criterion, making factors such as age and appearance, irrelevant. (Examples: a grossly overweight Pavarotti as a "handsome" Radames in Aida; a sixty-year old Sutherland as "the Daughter" of the Regiment in an Australian Opera production.) BUT, in TODAY'S world, where operatic productions are being filmed as well as recorded - where the visual aspects of a production will be important to the sale of DVDs and Blu Ray discs - singers are being groomed who cannot only sing but who are believable as the characters they represent. Thinks of handsome tenors such as Florez, Villazon and Kaufmann; beautiful sopranos like Netrebko, attractive mezzos like Garanca and baritones like Keenlyside, etc. I submit that Patricia Racette strikes a good balance between youth and experience and is here a very convincing Butterfly. I do not agree with those reviewers who found some faults with her voice; I, for one, did not detect any, and indeed, of the seven DVDs I own of this opera, her death scene is the best both vocally and dramatically.
All of the principal singers were in good form the day they recorded this production. Tenor Marcello Giordani, whose rendition of "Nessun Dorma" in the Met's last production of "Turandot", compared with Pavarotti's, impresses me here with his clarity of tone and ability to portray Pinkerton, not as a villain but as a flawed human being who does not realize the tragic consequences of his amorous affair with his Japanese bride. Dwayne Croft, a veteran of the Met, as Sharpless, is a good example of why baritones today are being afforded the prominence once reserved to their tenor colleagues. As Suzuki, Maria Zifchak, another Met stalwart, is able to bring out all the nuances in her character; she is not just Butterfly's servant, but companion in suffering. I was particularly impressed by her actually coming to tears when she is about to inform her mistress of Pinkerton's new wife.
(5) THE USE OF PUPPETS: Easily, this is the most controversial aspect of this production. It shouldn't be. A cardinal rule in criticism is that one shouldn't condemn a work one hasn't read, seen or heard. That rule applies here. Even though several puppets were employed in this production (several servants and one of Butterfly in a ballet scene), the one puppet who manages to captivate the audience is Butterfly's young son. Of all the child actors who have been cast in this part, THIS PUPPET IS THE FINEST OF THEM ALL! No three-year old would be capable of portraying awe, happiness, wonderment, sadness, and affection in the way that this three-foot tall "artificial child" has managed to do it. Great credit, of course, must be given to his three black-clad handlers, but after a while, they seem to disappear in the viewer's eye and mind. Please do not let the idea of puppets deter you from experiencing this magnificent production. You will be captivated by their use and might just forget that they are in the production.
(6) BUTTERFLY'S DEATH SCENE: has been described by other reviewers. Such a simple idea: use red cloth to symbolize blood. But add light effects and I could have sworn that the entire stage was covered with Cio-Cio-San's blood. Very effective, and coupled with Puccini's dramatic music, a powerful ending.
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53 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A melting pot of traditional theaters and a mixed bag of voices., December 21, 2010
By 
Jaydoggy (Essex, MA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Puccini: Madama Butterfly (DVD)
Anthony Minghella's new staging of Madama Butterfly is a fascinating mix of traditional theater from both Europe and Japan. This new production seems to have finally been released on DVD due to its online popularity and requests. This is the third production of a Madama Butterfly I've seen (I'm still pretty new to opera), and currently stands at my favorite.

The role of Butterfly is rather infamous; it's one of the most difficult roles both on a physical and psychological level (even the great Leontyne Price said she found the tragic role almost too painful to continue). The physical element requires a much more mature voice and powerful voice, thus nearly all people who play the role will have to be older than a 16-year-old girl. Racette may not be 16, but her body language, costume and makeup certainly make her look young, naive, and innocent. Though she doesn't look Japanese, this is definitely not the first opera I've seen in which a particular ethnicity is not matched by the performer (others include Otello, Turandot, or Atilla). Turn on the suspension of disbelief.

Her acting, body language and emotion were all there, but as another reviewer pointed out, her voice was not entirely there. As she went higher, her vibrato got too wide and even wobbly to the point that the center note was not as distinguishable. I found Act I to be the best part while Act II (sadly including Un bel di) to be the most wobbly and thin. Though it was a bit of a let-down, I was still fully immersed in the story and could see (and hear as the case may be) past the issues. Act III improved from Act II, though yes still the top notes wobbled. All in all though, I cannot say I was disappointed; it still shook me up.

Marcello Giordani's Pinkerton had a different sound and interpretation as others before him. It appears his Pinkerton is not necessarily cold or evil, but rather he's totally ignorant of exactly how terrible a thing he's doing. Giordani's interpretation has Pinkerton entering as a man filled with pride, thinking his culture is simply better while taking advantage of another culture guilt-free. He only suddenly feels guilt when he realizes he has his son, in which case he almost goes in for self-pity. Having interacted with people with similar vain self-pity issue, I found this interpretation very believable. It's different, but still a psychologically fascinating and realistic approach. Like Racette, his upper register was a disappointment. His voice was full, but the sound itself didn't seem to match his current emotion; the first act he sounded tragic too soon, which made his guilt and self-pity in Act III a little less powerful. Still, his acting and performance was enough to make him believable and conniving as any Pinkerton.

Dwayne Croft's Sharpless was probably the best I've seen and heard. Voice, face, emotion, acting, all of it was there. He's the only voice of reason, and he really shows his character as feeling a deep guilt for not speaking up or doing more to prevent the tragedy from happening. Maria Zifchak's Suzuki was the only real let-down for me. I don't know enough of her singing to know whether this is normal or just a bad day, but her voice seemed to have a lot of problems centering on a note. Though her character is a pessimist, I found her acting a little over-the-top and hard to believe. Still, her character still provides a good contrast to the naivety of Butterfly which Racette displays very well.

The use of puppets in this production seemed to stir a lot of controversy, especially with the role of Dolore (Butterfly and Pinkerton's son). I simply am confused with the controversy, perhaps I'm missing something because it is not in the least bit tasteless. The suspension of disbelief allows us to accept that Japanese and American people are singing back and forth to each other in Italian. Further, the portrayal of Japan in this opera (and the original short story and other adaptations of the tale) has a warped vision of Japan. The fact that the leading character has "san" at the end as an actual part of her name (rather than the fact that it's a title, thus not part of her name) shows some ignorance. If the suspension of disbelief allows this, then it can allow us to accept that the puppet is the boy. Perhaps the controversy was because of the West's image of puppetry. In Japan, puppet theater is essential, and it was done here accurately; three people shrouded in black control the puppet.

Traditionally in puppet theater the whole show is puppets rather than a single character. But I found the juxtaposition really fascinating and above all: tasteful. I've seen a lot of obnoxious regietheater productions (all of which claim they're trying to bring in a new audience, yet I'm in this new audience and they confuse me more than anything. Of course when I say that, they immediately change my position and accuse me of conservative snobbery! Cognitive dissonance in the artistic world). Nothing was over-the-top in this production with the one exception being the end of Act I (the "long duet" as it seems to be referred to) where Pinkerton and Butterfly were surrounded by floating, dancing lanterns. The addition of short mimed moments were also nice touches. It begins with a woman dancing with a pair of fans to pure silence on an empty, red stage. It immediately immerses you in in this foreign world.

All in all, I found this to be an astounding performance. Madama Butterfly is not a personal favorite show of mine (perhaps I am biased because I studied a lot of its history and art). Incidents similar to the events in Madama Butterfly though did happen, and certainly show a shameful moment in the West's History. The visually stunning production with an accurate mix of traditional theater from both a Western perspective (proper costumes and acting) and Eastern one (proper costumes, puppet theater, mime/gestures, and certain uses of props) make this a unique treat to watch. The voices were a let-down at times, but it didn't stop me from enjoying it by any means.

I would highly recommend this DVD to anyone. It must be entered with a bit of background information on Puppet Theater, but that could be something as simple as a search for a video on Youtube. If the idea is foreign to you, give it a try. Traditional Japanese Theater has some fascinating elements, and perhaps this interesting production will spark some more interest in it. The performance was believable nearly the entire time, and the singing throughout was mostly perfect. There may have been rough patches, but it definitely didn't ruin it for me.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Minghella's Marvelous Met Butterfly, January 12, 2011
By 
G P Padillo "paolo" (Portland, ME United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Puccini: Madama Butterfly (DVD)
When I first read about Minghella's production I had serious doubts, but everyone I knew (well, almost) who saw it in London, then here, had nothing but raves. I still had doubts going in, but was instantly won over by every element of it. The lighting, costumes, unit set and the never less than startling use of color is breathtaking.

Racette's Butterfly is one of the finest I've encountered and here she is positively shattering. (Special kudos go to her for rescuing this performance at the last minute, coming in from Washington, DC where she was in final rehearsals for "Peter Grimes.") Yes, she can flat a little, or start a note less than dead center of pitch, but in this performance there is almost none of that. Several moments are, in fact, so vocally perfect I find myself completely overwhelmed; most notably "Che tua madre" and the end of her great narration before the Cherry Blossom duet. In the latter Racette holds the final note for near eternity, the voice growing in a crescendo that nearly covered the orchestra (I've never heard this from her before) and as she let go of the note, she collapsed, fainting to the floor (in an earlier performance, the house erupted into a huge ovation).

Giordani is having a good day, as well, and always believable as Pinkerton. In Minghella's stunning setting he and Racette exploit two violently clashing cultures: Butterfly all delicate movement, darting and hiding all over the stage - behind lanterns, in the shadows, etc. creating a shy, excitable child while Pinkerton, barely controlling his passion, hunted her, grabbing her passionately as she jumps into his arms, then catching and holding her aloft, removing her outer garments, etc. Two vastly different worlds colliding and trapped perfectly in Puccini's inescapable web. If there is a more erotically charged romantic duet in all of opera than Butterfly & Pinkerton's, I don't know it

The Puppet Sorrow. I'd adopt him if I could (but would go broke trying to feed and clothe his handlers!) Racette's interactions with him were infinitely more touching than I've seen with any "real" child, lending a certain heightened hyper-realism I've not experienced before. (During intermission Racette, (unaware the camera was on her) prepares for the final act, climbing down onto the floor and addressing him "Okay, Baby . . . sleepytime, baby!" as she placed his head onto her lap positioning herself for curtain's rise. (At the HD presentation the entire theatre cracked up here and earlier when Giordani carried her offstage, Racette finally breaking character chortled "Thanks for carrying me ass first towards the camera, Marcello!")

Racette is a throwback to the style of singing of generations ago, singers willing to cross the line and "become" the character, using "old school diva tricks" like whispering, muttering, crying, giggling, groaning - all manner of "extramusical" devices which were pretty much all but eliminated from opera since the late 70's.

Dwyane Croft has grown to become perhaps the finest Sharpless in my experience. Gorgeous of voice, and offering a richly nuanced portrayal, evoking a worldly, but sympathetic masculinity while remaining impotent - an outsider who understands but is unable to prevent the tragedy he finds himself a part of.

Even the way the bows are presented is theatrical, and when the stage is bare, Cio Cio San appears at the top of the set an absolute ROAR went up from the house - and as she slowly made her way down to the footlights almost the entire house stood cheering. Breathtaking moment and Racette was visibly moved by the response.

This is a unique and special Butterfly and I'm thrilled to see it being released on DVD where it should do well.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best opera videos you can get, January 27, 2011
By 
figaro "figaro" (Eugene, OR United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Puccini: Madama Butterfly (DVD)
This is one of those opera videos that works on all levels, and because it is very hard to achieve that with this particular opera, and also because this is a very touching piece when delivered well as it is here, I highly recommend the video.

Butterfly is supposed to be small but her voice must be largish, so it's always a bit of a trick to get this opera to both look and sound right. Patricia Racette is wonderful as Butterfly. Her voice is easy to hear with a nice squillo - she never sounds pushed or fatigued all the way to the end. She is strong throughout all her registers. She looks small enough and her costumes help in adding a small look to her. The Suzuki, Maria Zifchak, is wonderful. Giordani as Pinkerton is in good voice, and he strikes a very handsome officer. Croft is in good enough voice to execute Sharpless without problem.

The puppets are wonderful. You generally have a real little boy playing the child and he's usually a bit out of place because there is quite a bit of stage-time but nothing for him to do as he is never a trained actor. But these skilled puppeteers have the little boy moving about displaying emotions by the movement of the puppet's body that is completely enchanting, and the child's emotions add rather than detract from the drama.

The second puppet is a representation of Butterfly dancing with a real human dancer representing Pinkerton in a short ballet. (Yes, the puppets are so charming, they can make a ballet in an opera seem too short. Hopefully, the 'Butterfly' puppet will get larger roles as her career blossoms. ;0) )

The sets are nice and so are the costumes. Butterfly and Pinkerton could not be made to look better. The costumes completely compliment all the main singers. It's just a great show, but be prepared to shed a tear or two.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Butterfly for misinformed tourist, August 14, 2011
I am very disappointed with this Butterfly, one of my most cherished operas.
The acting and direction are so primitive that is almost amateur in the worst ways... not a single new idea. Near this production the Metropolitan Opera Minghella's oeuvre is a masterwork. Why put this on Blu-ray at full price? The taping has great resolution, worst for the singers, whose flaws is 1080i HD definition visible! The sound has the most serious problem in a show so full of problems. All the principals use microphones, but the choir is almost mute, in a balance far far distant... The huge space makes the singers, mainly Butterfly looking for the conductor aid and support in the most poignant moments.
Do not waste your money, the image is beautiful, and stop! Very few for this wich is the most theatrical and romantic opera of all, Puccini's own favorite.
If you are a BIG Butterfly fan like myself try the Met ProductionPuccini: Madama Butterfly, or the marvelous and insuperable old Arena di Verona with Kabaiwanska Giacomo Puccini - Madama Butterfly / Kaibaivanska, Antinori, Jankovic, Saccomani, Ferrara (Arena di Verona), or the Scala...Madama Butterfly or any other . Please just forget this 2 hours -expensive- garbage.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good production but with minor issues, June 24, 2011
By 
John Chandler (Melbourne, Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Butterfly is always difficult to cast - mature caucasian sopranos just cannot look the part and of course the rest of the Japanese roles are similar. In recent years a large number of brilliant Asian singers, mostly from China and Korea, have appeared and it is disappointing they do not get selected more often for operas like Butterfly abd Turandot, particularly when Blu-ray discs are planned as they just make the visual side so much more realistic. It is no longer acceptable to say visual appearances don't matter. Having said that, this production makes a good attempt to disguise their Italian cast through skilled costume design and mostly one can overlook the obvious. Butterfly herself however is more difficult. Angeletti has a huge nose, rather large feet and in close ups her dental structure is very prominent. She tries hard and sings well but just does not remotely look like a 15 year old geisha. In the interlude between the two scenes in the second act, a short ballet appears that I felt added nothing to the production, but it was just odd and not a serious distraction.

The sets, lighting and sound were excellent considering this is an open air theatre. Full marks to the producers. This is thankfully a traditional production set in old Japan. No transfer to a bordello in Genoa or other modern nonsence! Sharpless was well sung and Pinkerton a really nasty cad as he is of course depicted in the story. I often wonder if he might one day appear as less selfish and more misguided, and therefore a bit more sympathetic, but not here. This is easily the best Butterfly I have seen on disc but there have been better productions in the theatre, notably one by the Australian Opera I saw last year. Hopefully more Blu-ray releases will appear to challenge this, but in the meantime there is much to enjoy and many good things in this release
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Live Performance on DVD, January 29, 2011
By 
Patrick J. Mack (santa monica, california) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Puccini: Madama Butterfly (DVD)
I thoroughly enjoyed this performance and appreciated all of it's theatricality. The magnificent costumes ( even Kate Pinkerton is a standout ) and the stylized images bring the viewer into the story.
Patricia Racette is a thrilling actress and her attention to the text is especially commendable. Although she may not have a super-star voice she does have everything necessary to fill the role and makes a thrilling performance.
I understand now why people call Marcello Giordano 'uneven'. He is mostly a thrilling vocalist but sometimes slips off the voice a little here and there. His support isn't as reliable and we've been horribly spoiled by Domingo for decades now.
Zifchak and Croft are both involved in the drama 100% and sing beautifully. It's tragic that this was Anthony Minghella's only opera production. I'm certain I own all the Butterfly's currently out and with just a fond glance at the Ponelle film with Freni & Karajan I reccommend this Met performance as the best of the bunch.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars racette and minghella are brilliant, June 21, 2011
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I saw the summer re-run of Madame Butterfly, having unfortunately missed the original HD broadcast. It was actually rather nice that they did away with the original intermission(s), as this helped maintain the dramatic flow of the evening. Minghella was such an intelligent, thoughtful and poetic director, one of my favorites, and I eagerly looked forward to his production. He did not disappoint. His stagecraft, and what has been referred to as "minimalist" style, were potent without being either over- or under-done and made excellent use of the space on stage. The beautiful and vibrant costuming also added much to his visual style. I liked his use of the smooth-moving screens and also the lanterns. I thought his use of a puppet for Butterfly's son was brilliant. The puppeteers expertly gave him fine nuance and gesture and succeeded in creating a credible and dramatic performance. Some reviewers said the black-clad figures operating him were a distraction, but one must remember that opera is a distance medium; it's not likely a viewer in the audience (especially in the cavernous Met) would have noticed their movements nearly as much as the closeup view given by the camera on the lip of the stage gave. I found it amazing that the inanimate face of the puppet almost seemed to take on different expressions according to the subtle movements of his head and neck, in harmony with the rest of his body. It was mesmerizing.

The singing was uniformly good to very good, with Patricia Racette outstanding as Butterfly. Her lovely voice has a clarity and thrust which allows her to be heard at any dynamic, but one never sensed her applying vocal technique for emphasis on top of her touching characterization. When her voice bloomed in arching phrases, it was always with expressive emotion. Singing and acting were absolutely fused together in her performance, and she was rightly rewarded with a huge ovation at the end. Yes, she is nowhere near fifteen hears old, and she is neither trim or slender; but when she sang in a voice like springtime, those details mattered much less to me. She really captured the spirit and naivete of a young girl coming into adulthood under tragic circumstances. Maria Zifchak was a solid and sympathetic Suzuki, and also offered a voice of beauty and clarity, blending well with Racette. The men's roles were slightly less satisfying to me. Marcello Giordani is one today's front ranking tenors and Puccini's music suits his soaring voice well. However, I found his characterization a bit pale in comparison to Racette's, and at times his top notes sounded rough and oversung. Dwayne Croft as Sharpless was a sympathetic actor and dramatically held his own with the rest of the cast; sadly, his voice seems to have the lost some of its point and sheen, although he always phrases with beauty and musicality. Greg Fedderly as Goro was sharp in both characterization and voice. The steely quality of his tenor would probably serve him well in a Wagner role such as Mime.

The theatre audience to seemed genuinely enjoy the performance, often joining the Met audience in moments of applause. For me, it was everything I'd hoped for. I have seen Butterfly at the San Francisco Opera house with Catherine Malfitano, another fine singing actress, as Butterfly, and I've come to realize how crucial it is to have a singer of these qualities in this demanding role. When you get artists of the caliber of Racette and Minghella, you can be sure you will experience a performance of superior quality and artistic excellence. The world of cinema and theatre lost a treasure when Minghella passed away in 2008. I look forward to having my DVD of this wonderful performance.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent Butterfly, July 1, 2011
By 
Ultrarunner (Perth-West Australia) - See all my reviews
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The first performance of Butterfly was a failure at its premiere at La Scala in 1904, even though it had Storchio as Butterfly,Toscanni's lover at the time. The youthful Zenatello as Pinkerton and De Luca as Sharpless. A dream cast. The problem was that Butterfly was devided into two long acts. Also, many people in Milan wanted Puccini to fail. He was not their favourite composer and getting too big for his pants they thought. When the curtain finally fell there was total silence. Toscanni had predicted such a failure when he saw the score at Storchio's home. He had left La Scala by this time because the audience were too noisy. Puccini withdrew the opera, changed parts of the opera and divided the opera into three acts. Three months later Butterfly was presented at Brescia,between Milan and Turin. Butterfly was Salomea Kruszeinicka with a deeper voice. The other principal singers and conductor were the same. The success the opera received was due to the changes and a more open minded audience. Puccini fiddled with the opera until 1906, when Butterfly had its premiere at the Paris opera-Comique. Albert Carre, director of the opera Comique wanted changes to suit his bourgeois audience. This 1906 version is the one we hear today. Madama Butterfly was converted from a Japanese tragedy, to a Melodrama. In the original version of 1904,from the moment the child is born, he is the reason for Butterfly's existence,the reason for her independence. In the final scene, after she bids farewell to the child, she wilfully commits suicide as befits the dignity of the daughter of a Samurai. Only by her death can Butterfly give her child to the Pinkerton's , because the maternal bond is too strong. This is a part of her destiny, the path she has followed and what has been delivered to her. She was not a victim as she became in the 1906 version. But this 1906 version as well as the 1904 version conforms to Puccini's wish" I shall make you weep" The 1904 La Scala Version can be found on Vox classics, conductor, Rosekrans with the Hungarian State opera house orchestra. The Butterfly is Maria Spacagna. You can programme the Brescia and 1906 Paris version to play as well from these 4 CD's.Also, included is the original texts. You might be interested in hearing the original 1904 singers, Storchio, Zenatello and De Luca,also Kruszeinicka on CD. EMI Classics Vol 1,1878-1914,La Scala edition. Also, EMI, Les introuvables du chant Verdien. (Rarities of Verdi Singers). I believe it is wise to know your history, so you can understand the present.

The current Butterfly is produced at the Sferisterio opera Festival Macerata This open air stadium was opened in 1829 as a home for Italian handball game, but used as a music venue since the 1920's. Pier Luigi Pizzi is the Stage Director,set and Costume designer. The production is traditional with its pretty little Japanese House, blossom covered cherry tree and silk kimonos. Many of Pinkertons less likeable characteristics are shown. His thoughtless juggling of the statues of Buddha, and his doling out dollar bills to show money can buy you love. The Fondazione Orchestra Regionala delle marche is conducted by Daniele Callegari. The music is swift and captures the emotion and sadness in this piece. Bravo. One of Italy's favourite Butterfly's is singing the part, Raffaella Angeletti, who has deep chest notes, more like a Kruszelinicka ,then a Storchio. She captures the emotional impulse. My stiff upper lip dropped for a while, I was almost in tears at the end.Puccini, you got me. Suzuki is Annunziata Vestri the mezzo, who is marvellous. Sharpless is Pisapia. Strong voice. The rest of the cast is equally fine. I think the reason why this opera succeeds, is because the orchestra, director and much of the cast are Italian. If you like Italian opera and Puccini, this is a must for your Blu Ray collection.This review is by a person who also likes Modern productions.This opera is traditionally staged. Worldwide, filmed in HD.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Production, Great Opera, Mediocre Singing, May 27, 2013
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This review is from: Puccini: Madama Butterfly (DVD)
"Madame Butterfly" by Puccini is one of the great operas. The audio history of it goes all the way back to the first performance casts, with Krushelnytska (May 1904 version) Zenatello (May 1904). (This was the 2nd of the 5 versions of the opera). Both these singers recorded music from their roles. At the Metropolitan in New York, the major Butterfly of the time was Geraldine Farrar. Her usual partner was Caruso. They recorded plenty of their music, too. In fact many of the early great interpretors of the roles were recorded using the acoustic process and later the electrical process. The 1956 version with Anna Moffo, Renato Coni, Afro Poli (127 mins b&w) is better sung, better acted and better than the current version. Butterfly is a role that has been sung by Destinn, Callas, Price, Tebaldi, Scotto, Freni and every soprano of vocal weight to match the huge orchestral climaxes. Patricia Racette while very nice is simply not in the class of the abovementioned great ladies of opera. She is adequate in the role, adequate on stage, an adequate actress--that is to say--she moves around on stage without breaking anything. Her version of the music is unidiomatic. This is to say this is NOT ITALIAN! The cast, dragged in from all over the world demonstrates the weakness and strengths of the "international" system of opera as it is worked today in leading opera houses. If the singing is mediocre at best, the production is wonderful, exotic, modern and beautiful. However, anyone who goes to an opera like "Madame Butterfly" and comes out talking about the scenery, has witnessed a failed performance. It is the singing, "pace" stage directors, that is the most important thing in opera. This is why such pleasure can be derived from a recording with no visuals. If you want a great audio only of Butterfly, Price and Tucker will change your life. If it is Italians you want, Tebaldi and Bergonzi or Scotto and Bergonzi with Barbirolli, or Pavarotti and Freni from 1974 for a more recent example. Too bad the sung side of this DVD doesn't match the production side.
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Puccini: Madama Butterfly
Puccini: Madama Butterfly by Gary Halvorson (DVD - 2011)
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