Puccini Madama Butterfly

Author: 
Michael Oliver

Puccini Madama Butterfly

  • Madama Butterfly

Butterfly was not an obvious role for Tebaldi: girlish charm and vulnerable innocence were not her strong suits; she sometimes replaces them with a slightly irritating shrill laugh and by ‘expressively’ distorting the melodic line. Yet she no less often conscientiously fines down her magnificent voice to a genuine intimacy of expression (the letter-reading scene with Sharpless is touching) and there are few accounts of the role that are more securely, more gloriously sung, and with a voice that seems without a flaw throughout its register. So many more convincingly childlike Butterflys simply have no lower notes to speak of, or are incapable of the cruelly demanding outburst of “Tu, tu, piccolo Iddio”, that it is splendid to hear in the role a voice that you know will not be found wanting at any point. And few Butterflys have been more ardently and sympathetically partnered than by Bergonzi, here in his finest voice: the love duet is superbly done.
Cossotto is a fine Suzuki, but Sordello’s Sharpless is disappointing, the voice rather shallow, the acting minimal. Serafin’s obvious affection for the score leads him into leisured tempos at times, and to a lack of impact: the loud chord that follows Sharpless’s question about what Butterfly would do if Pinkerton never came back should be as brutal as a blow in the face; here it hardly registers. But the early stereo recording is excellent and all the minor parts are well taken. At bargain price this would still be a contender among the top half-dozen or so recordings of the opera if Decca had not spoiled the ship for a ha’p’orth of tar by not providing a libretto. This is despicable parsimony, and unless collectors refuse to buy libretto-less recordings the habit will spread.'

Gramophone Subscriptions

From£67/year

Gramophone Print

Gramophone Print

no Digital Edition
no Digital Archive
no Reviews Database
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe
From£67/year

Gramophone Reviews

Gramophone Reviews

no Print Edition
no Digital Edition
no Digital Archive
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe
From£67/year

Gramophone Digital Edition

Gramophone Digital Edition

no Print Edition
no Reviews Database
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe

If you are a library, university or other organisation that would be interested in an institutional subscription to Gramophone please click here for further information.

© MA Business and Leisure Ltd. 2018