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Puccini: Madama Butterfly

3.9 out of 5 stars 80 customer reviews

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(Jan 25, 2011)
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Editorial Reviews

Anthony Minghella’s stunning production was seen by thousands of people around the world and was originally broadcast March 7, 2009 as part of the Peabody and Emmy Award®-winning Live in HD transmissions to movie theaters. Patricia Racette is Cio-Cio-San, Marcello Giordani is American Navy lieutenant B. F. Pinkerton, Maria Zifchak is Suzuki and Dwayne Croft is Sharpless. Patrick Summers conducts the Metropolitan Opera and Chorus.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Patricia Racette, Maria Zifchak, Marcello Giordani, Dwayne Croft, Patrick Summers
  • Directors: Anthony Minghella, Carolyn Choa, Gary Halvorson
  • Writers: Giacomo Puccini, Giacosa & Illica
  • Producers: Peter Gelb, The Metropolitan Opera
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, NTSC
  • Language: Italian (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: German, English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Sony Classical
  • DVD Release Date: January 25, 2011
  • Run Time: 165 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004ECFW7Q
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,860 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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.
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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.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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.
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