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Showing 1-10 of 59 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 107 reviews
on September 3, 2014
I have at least 6 DVDs of Madama Butterfly. This is certainly the most beautiful visually and it is right up there musically. One of the posted reviews regretted the absence of the Humming chorus. Something must have happened either to that reviewer's version or subsequent to the review as my DVD includes the Humming Chorus making the entire experience delightful. All of the principals are superb...in terms of voice, appearance, and dramatic performance. I could go on and on about each aria, duet, character...they all fulfilled my fantasies about the way Madama Butterfly should/could be performed.
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I have seen several versions of Madame Butterfly, both in person and on film. I can say that this is truly one of if not the best presentation. I was pleasantly surprised. The acting is top notch and the photography is crisp even on a 42" screen. The timing put you into the scene as if you are part of the play. The costumes are realistic and not stage egad rated or out of the time period.

The basic story is of an U.S. Lieutenant Pinkerton of the navy, stationed in Japan. He is used to a girl in every port. The 15-year-old girl in this port however gives up her home and religion to become his American wife. She is due for an unbelievable shock when Pinkerton returns to Japan after a sojourn to America.

Everyone looks the part and sings very well.

Ying Huang: Cio-Cio-San
Richard Troxell: Pinkerton
Ning Liang: Suzuki
Richard Cowan: Sharpless
Jing Ma Fan: Goro
Christopheren Nòmura: Prince Yamadori
Constance Hauman: Kate Pinkerton

Directed by
Frédéric Mitterrand
Giuseppe Giacosa & Luigi Illica
Frédéric Mitterrand
Original Music
Giacomo Puccini (music by)
Philippe Welt
Luc Barnier
Casting Directors
Isabelle Partiot
Production Designers
Michèle Abbé-Vannier
Taïeb Jallouli¹

Puccini - Madama Butterfly
review image
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on February 16, 2012
Excellent movie DVD. The role of Cio Cio San can be performed either by a 300-pound dramatic soprano, or a lithe lyric singer. For the latter, sopranos such as Ying Huang and Anna Moffo (DVD from a previous generation), both beautiful women, are visually and vocally credible. Any shortcomings in this DVD are minor: (1) It was filmed in Tunisia. Why not Japan? Too expensive? (2) Ying Huang is an attractive young lady, but the paint job on her face made her look much older. (3) Puccini's B.F.Pinkerton is a despicable male slut, but Richard Troxell's Pinkerton is almost a likable guy. (4) I prefer a live stage performance, but there are advantages of a movie setting. Five stars!
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on March 19, 2002
I am not a fan of stage-to-screen opera. I like opera and Butterfly ranks as my favorite. Most film adaptations lose something in the translation. This doesn't. The scenery and actual Japanese locations add to the story line. It's a pleasure to see Butterfly finally being performed by a petite and demeure gal as she was created by Puccini and not some 300 pound hefer of a soprano trying to cavort all over the stage. No wonder Pinkerton left that cow! I would! Seriously, the story is beautiful, the music superb especially Un Bel Di, and the acting is great. Pinkerton is portayed as the two-timing S.O.B. as he is to the hilt. A great adaptation to DVD! The videography is superb!
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on May 30, 2002
As a musical-theater enthusiast unfamiliar with the opera world, I stumbled across this production almost by accident when a visit to a ballet performance of Butterfly sent me scuttling thru the local libraries in search of Puccini's original opera. Used to thinking of opera as somewhat "stuffy", I was unprepared for what I found- I was completely caught off guard by the quality of the acting, and the power of the music. Within 5 minutes I had nearly forgotten I was watching classical opera in a foreign language with subtitles, and thought I was seeing yet another of my favorite musicals (believe me, from someone as enamored of Les Mis as myself, that is VERY high praise!) And the more I watch it, the more I notice of the care and detailing the actors and director put into this performance (try watching the consul Sharpless- carefully- right before he has to answer Butterfly's question about when robins build their nest).

I think it would be nearly impossible to find another version so accessible to non-opera people like myself. More seasoned opera lovers may, perhaps, criticize the singing; I personally cannot hear why. Huang may be light, but she holds her own against the best "Butterflies" out there; and no other Sharpless I've heard even comes close to Cowan's. Having since compared this with numerous other versions (including Scotto and Freni), I have found no other version yet that more closely captures, for me, the essence of these characters; the carefree, irresponsible charm and rogueishness of Pinkerton, the compassionate gallantry of the Consul Sharpless, the innocent naivete and heartbreaking vulnerability of Butterfly. "B-List singers", indeed!

There are a few decisions the director made, which other reviewers here have touched on, that I didn't quite understand: having the Bonze (Butterfly's uncle, a Buddhist priest) come in as a kind of flying ghost; using footage of old (pre-war) Nagasaki for the dream sequence during the Humming Chorus; and some of the changes made in the staging of the final sequence. Then, there was also just a bit more focus on the matchmaker, Goro, than I felt the role called for (he was even present in one scene near the end where he had no lines and did not seem to belong) But overall I would say this was a very excellent production. Since seeing it I have become rather obsessed; you might say I have Butterflies on the brain!

***One note on the review below by Paul Smith Carter; I believe this must be a review of the WRONG Butterfly, since *Huang* NOT Raina, here sings the title role.
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on February 20, 2002
I have seen several videos of Madame Butterfly and I am delighted to own this one. Filmed on location in Tunisia, this wonderful production gives reality to this tragic story. It is sensitively portrayed with good singers who are also great actors. Pinkerton was perfect for the role - amazingly believable, with great acting ability as well as a good voice. Butterfly was also perfect in the role - a delicate, fragile flower with an excellent voice to match. The two together made magic. Goro, the marriage broker, was appropriately sinister, and the Consulate appropriately confused about how to handle this situation.

The down-side, however, was the director's creative license, which detracted quite a bit from this wonderful production. Two scenes in particular come to mind which I feel Puccini would have rolled over in his grave if he had seen them. The first one was the three flying ghosts at the wedding, who admonish Butterfly for converting to Christianity. In my opinion this was a real stupid interpretation, since the original libretto called for a real-live angry uncle crashing the wedding. The second, which I feel was an even worse offense, was when Butterfly and Suzuki wait for Pinkerton throughout the night. That musical scene in the opera, referred to as the "Humming Chorus," is haunting and is usually depicted with lighting effects as the evening slowly transcends into dawn. The director took liberties at this point to insert black-and-white vintage footage of 19th century Japan. Not only did this detract from the beauty of the scene and pull you completely out of the opera, but the clips were paced much faster than the music. He could have used his creativity instead to display a Japanese sunset, beautiful visual scenes of Japan, or just use effective lighting instead of changing the mood altogether. There were also several musical pauses during scene changes that broke the cadence of the music and brought you into reality with a thud. These were totally unnecessary and amateurishly done. The film should never take precedence over the music.

Generally speaking, even with these shortcomings, the entire production was a magnificent achievement and I would recommend it to anyone, especially to beginners who have never seen an opera. In my local opera group there wasn't a dry eye in the house.
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on October 26, 2003
I cannot imagine a better movie treatment of Madama Butterfly than this. In fact, it may be a long time before another one is attempted, simply because this is one tough act to follow. The setting, the costumes, and above all, the casting ... it is so obvious that everything in this production was planned and executed with tender loving care.
My teenage niece was captivated by this opera (after telling me she wouldn't like it!) She has since bought her own copy and it has opened up a whole new world for her.
This DVD never fails to give me goosebumps ... even when I just THINK about some of the scenes and arias!! It accomplishes the essential B and P of opera--Beauty and Passion--wonderfully. "Madama Butterfly" is one of my three favorite operas on DVD--the other two being "Otello" with Placido Domingo, and of course, Ingmar Bergman's "Magic Flute."
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on October 25, 2016
The staging and participants was perfect. Refreshing to see a young, hairy chested Richard Troxell in the role of Pinkerton. He is able to
carry both the drama and the vocal score of Pinkerton.
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on August 15, 2000
Is it possible that a film adaptation of an opera can actually surpass a staged version? In the case of this Madame Butterfly, I would have to answer with a resounding YES. I've seen this opera a couple of times in opera houses. Each performance was beautiful, of course. But it wasn't until I saw this film that this masterpiece truly came alive for me. The film is stunning. Puccini's gorgeous music, the singing, the cast, the scenery... everything about this film is perfection itself. If you have even the slightest interest in opera, please do yourself a huge favor and wallow in this film. Make sure to have a hankie on hand, and that goes for you guys too. My only regret is that this Madame Butterly is unavailable on DVD, I hope Sony Pictures gets around to it soon. If ever a movie deserved to be on DVD, Madame Butterfly certainly does.
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on May 12, 2007
The film rendition is beautiful, although visibly low budget. It is so difficult to translate the artificial settings of the opera to film, but this production succeeds very well. Cho cho San and Pinkerton are much more convincing in appearance than in most operatic productions, so I will probably be spoiled for any live productions in the future. The extra materials make it clear how their voices are so perfect throughout despite outdoor scenes and lots of wandering. Oh, the wonders of film! Yet, you are never aware of the lip-syncing.

My only criticism of this film is in the editing. It was unfortunate that in the interest of dramatic continuity some of the original music was edited out.
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