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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars26
4.1 out of 5 stars
Format: DVDChange
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on 9 December 2001
With two of the best ever opera stars this performance of Madama Butterfly has a head start. I love this interpretation and it is my favourite opera. Domingo is outstanding in both his acting and vocal performance of this role of Pinkerton. The sincerity and flippancy of the character is evident and his voice is superb. As for Mirella Freni, she makes an excellent Butterfly. Her mixture of naievity and passion is exactly right for this role. She makes you really believe and emapthise with the characters love for Pinkerton and her inocence of life. I would say that if you buy only one version of this wonderful opera it should be this one. All the characters are portrayed excellently. The singing is divine and the setting magnificent. Every act is a joy to behold but for me the most magical is the first. This truly is the best way to indulge yourself and can be enjoyed over and over again.
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on 5 March 2006
This could have been a truly memorable performance had it not been ruined by the stage Director. Musically, you will be very hard pressed to find a better Butterfly. Mirella Freni has a fresh and full voice in 1974 and delivers the demands of the title role with superb singing and wonderful acting. Her big expressive eyes, although neither Japanese nor fifteen years of age, portray all the agony that this young woman was subjected to. Her singing matches these emotions with great warmth and vocal accuracy, although at times you hear her sing but you do not see her sing as the soundtrack was superimposed onto the film at a latter stage and the principals do not mimic their own singing convincingly all the time. Placido Domingo is in truly great voice, one of his best ever vocal performances on DVD. His acting is superb, portraying the arrogant American sailor. Christa Ludwig is a jewel in the set. Both her very fine singing and her emotional acting bring a perfect portrayal of Butterfly's maid. Robert Kerns is a very good Sharpless (the American Consul) and Michel Sénéchal portrays a very vulgar Italian-style marriage broker. The Vienna Philharmonic under Herbert von Karajan provide an incredible orchestral background and under Karajan's direction the entire singing and flow of this very dramatic score reaches the finest climaxes imaginable.
So why do I give only 4 stars. Almost the entire opera is filmed on a non-discript fog bound colourless heath, covered by dry grass. Is this Mr Ponnelle's idea of a Japanese garden during the cherry blossom ? If it is, the man has a weird and twisted view of this world, a world in which the word beauty has no place. The man, judging him from his other stagings of operas, like the "Barber of Seville" also on DGG DVD, has taste. So what happened here? What have we ordinary mortals and viewers of this performance done to deserve such treatment? Having said all that, he still does provide us wit some lovely shots of the opera, but unfortunately these are rare compared to that terrible fog and the colourless heath. A filmed theatrical performance would have been much preferable.
11 comment34 of 37 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 13 November 2014
Have watched this many times and it really is as good as it gets.
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on 4 July 2013
Focussing our attention on just one tragic figure was a stroke of genius. Butterfly is an impossible figment but there's the hook. The real people who surround her appear dangerously self absorbed. Butterfly stands alone the essence of real tragedy. The music is fabulous and seductive, the performances superb. If you don't want to be carried away, try something else, Wozzek perhaps.
0Comment4 of 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 14 July 2011
Always has been my favourite opera & Mirella Freni & Placido Domingo are excellent in their roles. Recommend it to all opera fans.
0Comment4 of 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 11 March 2014
Very good viewing. Item arrived on time, well packaged and as described.
0Comment1 of 1 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 25 April 2010
Loved this production. Because it was a film rather than a stage production it was very realistic, if a bit OTT in spots. If you want to lose yourself in a chill out evening with plenty of tears this is the one to do it.
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on 13 September 2012
Who could fail to be moved by such a woderful love story as this and by the fantastic music of Puccini. Even if you are not an Opera Lover you probably know the wonderful Humming Chorus and One Fine Day, which are only glimpses of the whole Opera.
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on 13 April 2015
Domingo's voice was beautiful but visually the interpretation was borderline scary.
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on 20 November 2015
enjoyed the music and wonderful voices but found the production very grey.
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