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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars greatest Butterffly on disc, 13 May 2001
This review is from: Puccini: Madama Butterfly (Audio CD)
This Butterfly cancels out many others...except for Callas and Scotto who could give the full rich drama of this piece on stage and in the studio(Scotto has pirated performances that are spectacular). Although Freni never sang Butterfly in the opera house she makes such a great figure of Butterfly on disc that one can only imagine on stage what could have been..possibly her greatest role, which she declined to do out of fear of the vocal demands. Such fear did not prevent her from going all outm in this set, along with Pavarotti(never better), and Christa Ludwig as Suzsuki(extraordinary), and Jeromoe Hines(superb), with Von Karajan conducting with great feeling and slow pacing that works. This is a known quanitity to be sure...but it needs to be staed that this Madama Butterfly is the very best.
Freni re-recorded it with Sinopoli conducting on DG, and while good, it cannot go head to head with the Decca set. Enjoy.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Freni is super, 8 Oct 2003
By 
Mr. T. G. Child (Budapest, Hungary) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Puccini: Madama Butterfly (Audio CD)
You might wonder who Freni manages it. She does not have the build of the typical leading soprano. She is not your typical fat lady yet she brings to the world of opera the most perfect of voices and performances. Having seen her perform a number of times I can say this disc does capture a lot of her excellent qualities. This performance is magnificent. In the firm version with Domingo the demands of the camera does not bring out her best but with this she shines. The orchestra under Herbert von Karajan does a marvellous job and although I sometimes find his command of orchestra over dramatic in some of his recordings, in this I think he has got it just right. Christa Ludwig turns in a great role as Suzsuki. The part does not have the same edge as some of Puccini's other great supporting roles (like Liu in Turnadot or Musetta in La Boheme) but in this Christa give an excellent performance which fit in perfectly.
What I think is special about this production is the combination of Freni and Pavarotti They were born in the same town (Modena) in the same year and here they are, of course, performing in their own language. Recorded in 1974 just as Pavarotti was getting known his voice still has the magical quality before the high life and concert tours took their tool. They have a special harmony in their performances which I do not think comes through when Freni sings with Domingo. To get the full effect buy this version, the highlights are good, but this is better. The quality is of the recoding is very good and so do not put off into buying later recordings just because it a 1970o's recording.
It is hard to say how the test of time will treat this recording. It is certainly the best around to date. The quality shines through. If you like this, also get the Freni and Pavarotti version of La Boheme.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb!, 13 Jan 2008
By 
E. A. Redfearn "eredfearn2" (Middlesbrough) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Puccini: Madama Butterfly (Audio CD)
Madam Butterfly, one of the most popular operas ever composed is given full justice with this wonderful recording. Karajan maintains a superb tempi throughout, preferring to allow the music to flow naturally. The singers, Freni and Pavarotti especially are at their best here. The entire First Act just flows and must be deemed to be the best version of this act available. What I also like about this version; the sound is wonderfully balanced. Neither too loud, nor too quiet, I did not have to adjust the level of sound on my system once throughout the entire recording which I sometimes have to do with some recordings of other operas and musical works. All I had to do was to sit back and thoroughly enjoy this sublime work. First Class!

If you already have recordings of this opera, you should really add this to your collection. My only criticism though is that it is rather highly priced bearing in mind that it has been available for a number of years now. Perhaps, discounting should be made more readily available, particularly to regular customers of Amazon.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure and passionate, 11 Mar 2009
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C. P. Van Noort "N. van Noort" (Amsterdam, The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Puccini: Madama Butterfly (Audio CD)
Wonderful version of Madama Butterfly. I know several performances, but none touches my heart so much as this one, with the delicate pure voice of Mirella Freni end the passionate 'voce' of the great Pavarotti. One minor minus: the fast intro. I prefer the intro in the Barbirolli (Renata Scotto) performance.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great all-round recordings, 21 Nov 2011
This review is from: Puccini: Madama Butterfly (Audio CD)
In all areas I firmly believe this is one of the finest opera recordings ever made. There are simply no flaws. Freni's youthful, delicate and powerful voice is Cio Cio San. Pavarotti gleams in this tessitura and Ludwig is perfect as Suzuki.

Butterfly is the finest of Puccini's operas, in my opinion, the score is littered with delicate textures and leitmotifs, not to mention spine-tingling melody. Karajan revels in these textures, but he also rightly indulges the emotions which peak beyond measure in this recording.

There are other great recordings - Victoria de los Angeles and Jussi Bjorling on EMI; Scotto and Bergonzi also on EMI; Toti dal Monte and Gigli on Naxos; there's even an overlooked recording with Raina Kabaivanska on the Arts label which I would recommend, but Freni, Pavarotti, Karajan and the Vienna Philhamonic are in their own league.

This recording is all the reasons why you love opera.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heaven in 3Cds!, 3 April 2003
By 
John Gauci (MARSASCALA, Malta) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Puccini: Madama Butterfly (Audio CD)
Freni's voice is golden, Pavarotti never sounds better, VPO is devine and Karajan is the ultimate Puccini conductor. Just sit back a listen to music sent from heaven.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You get wot you pay for..the phrase finally rings true.Six stars., 22 Dec 2008
By 
E. Coolican "karajan lover" (london) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Puccini: Madama Butterfly (Audio CD)
This has got to be in the top three of all opera's available on CD.And I've heard several hundred. No other cast comes close, no other conductor comes close, Pavvy and Mirelli are at the top of their game, and all, and I mean all, of the cast are in excellent voice, and it has soul, baby!.Alas I only have it on tape, but I fully understand why it remains top whack in price, and will remain so, for ever and ever, 'cos it's worth every centime!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the very best, 16 Nov 2011
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This review is from: Puccini: Madama Butterfly (Audio CD)
this version of Butterfly exceeded my expectations,the cost of it was worth every penny,the two leads are at the top of their powers.I have seen and heard this opera many times over the years,but this is the one all others should be measured by.On three discs, it comes with a book explaining its begining and how badly it was received on its first showing,Puccini made changes,and all was well thank goodness,so now i can i can hear it anytime,not the same as seeing it on stage i know ,but the next best thing sueb
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'The Best'...., 16 April 2009
By 
Mr. David L. Gill "dave_carpet" (Hove, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Puccini: Madama Butterfly (Audio CD)
Yeah....though Karajan's Boheme suffers from some extremely self-indulgent tempi, this set hits the spot. The Vienna Philharmonic are truly a force to be reckoned with. Have just, today, bought the EMI/Pappano/Giorgiou set (as I was worried about the EMI executives' pensions!), but am sure this will be the top recommendation (Karajan) for decades to come.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Car-y-oke, 23 Jun 2014
By 
Miss Anne Thrope (Halfway between the gutter and the stars) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Puccini: Madama Butterfly (Audio CD)
My mother loves this particular version. Anyway, she's now happily zooming round the countryside singing to this at the top of her voice and saying 'ooh, he's such a cad.' It's terrific - worth the extra for Pavarotti.
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Puccini: Madama Butterfly
Puccini: Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini (Audio CD - 1987)
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