Customer Reviews


16 Reviews
5 star:
 (10)
4 star:
 (3)
3 star:
 (2)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


74 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Madama Butterfly of Rare Beauty
Antonio Pappano's recording of Madama Butterfly is likely to be considered as legendary as, for example, Victor de Sábata's Tosca with Callas-di Stefano-Gobbi or Sir Thomas Beecham's Bohème with De los Angeles-Björling-Merrill. It is a formidable performance, full of dynamics, vitality and heartbreaking despair, much due to the magnificent singing of...
Published on 6 Aug 2010 by Bing-Alguin

versus
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars disappointing
Having heard Pappano conduct this piece in the theatre, with a very different cast, this recording as a disappointment. Gheorgiu sounds almost studiously uninvolved and although her voice is beautifully captured (if not a little flatteringly so in scale terms) Butterfly need more personality, nuance and passion. The contrast is all the more striking in the duets with...
Published 20 months ago by dacochrane


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

74 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Madama Butterfly of Rare Beauty, 6 Aug 2010
This review is from: Puccini: Madama Butterfly (Audio CD)
Antonio Pappano's recording of Madama Butterfly is likely to be considered as legendary as, for example, Victor de Sábata's Tosca with Callas-di Stefano-Gobbi or Sir Thomas Beecham's Bohème with De los Angeles-Björling-Merrill. It is a formidable performance, full of dynamics, vitality and heartbreaking despair, much due to the magnificent singing of Angela Gheorghiu in the principal part, the most vulnerable and disconsolate heroine in the whole opera repertoire. She is tender, with subtle distinctions, and voluminously awe-inspiring in her desperation. Her "Un bel di vedremo" is incomparable and will, I suppose, go on to be so. In all, this is a role creation of a kind that makes even superlatives turn pale.
She is well assisted by Jonas Kaufmann, who makes a maximum of the ungrateful anti-hero role of Pinkerton, his tenor being the most versatile and expressive one among young tenors to-day. Enkelejda Shkosa and Fabio Capitanucci complement the leading couple excellently as Suzuki and Sharpless, the latter a classical Italian baritone of Gobbi-like stature. All the lesser parts are well filled, and Santa Cecilia Chorus and Orchestra seem to glow with particular ardour and elevate themselves to a maximum level under the inspiring guidance of Pappano.
Puccini mostly had an exceptional capacity for pushing the melodious web into an absorbing climax in the end of the acts, and Pappano and his singers triumph in these peaks. The fiery love duet in the end of Act I is rapturous, as is the bitter end of Act II, breathtakingly tragic, with that thrill of horror that is true to the dramatic meaning of a real tragedy.
Highly recommended, of course! This is a trustworthy winner and an everlasting joy, not to be neglected by any opera lover.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful "Butterfly" - but it does not displace the Karajan version, 21 Mar 2011
By 
Ralph Moore "Ralph operaphile" (Bishop's Stortford, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Puccini: Madama Butterfly (Audio CD)
The very fact that this recording was made at all is a cause for celebration. The 2004 "Tristan und Isolde" was declared by EMI to be the last commercial recording of its kind; henceforth opera would be available only on DVD's of live performances - but here we are with a brand new "Madama Butterfly" performed by a top-rate cast and conductor. When he became the Royal Opera's Music Director in 2002, Pappano vowed to make recordings only with his resident forces, but being a pragmatist and no prima donna of the old school, he sensibly compromised his principles when the opportunity arose to make this recording in Rome. Given that an opera recording can incur costs approaching half a million pounds, it made sense to integrate the recording into the annual schedule of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. Overheads such as the hall, the recording studio and the orchestra itself were thus absorbed within the Accademia's budget and the project became commercially viable. Furthermore, the timing was right: had the current financial crisis hit earlier, or the recording schedule been delayed, one wonders if it would ever have got off the ground.

So we have every reason to cheer and hope that so risky a venture as a new, complete, opera recording proves financially succesful. I feel a certain pressure on me as a reviewer to be as positive as possible about this set - and, thankfully, that's not too hard. The indications are all good: the reigning EMI house diva Angela Gheorghiu has a particular affinity with Puccini; her voice has just the right plangency and morbidezza for his heroines. She has not sung the rôle on stage - but then, neither had Mirella Freni when she made her seminal version with Karajan - and indeed, she never did perform it live. German tenor Jonas Kaufmann is one of the two or three most sought-after on the circuit, with a voice of the kind of heft that is all too rare today. Antonio Pappano is proving to be the most dependable and successful of conductors; despite being only in mid-career he has already made a dozen opera recordings at a time when most conductors can only dream of so doing. Finally, the idea of returning a major Puccini recording to the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia has a nostalgic as well as a practical appeal: they were responsible for legion top-quality recordings in the 50's.

So can I be sufficiently positive about this recording? Yes; but with some qualifications. Let's start with the obvious: the sound is spectacularly good; spacious, warm, and superior to any previous set - so much so that there is quite a lot of extraneous noise, especially if one listens through headphones: creaks, thumps, groans and cars accelerating all form a sonic underlay, so acute are the microphones. Balances are very good and the virtuosity of Pappano's orchestra is there for all to hear; there is energy and attack in plenty, in combination with some lovely gradation of dynamics. Little details and subtleties emerge under Pappano's direction; he has clearly re-thought the score and brought his customary zest to bear. Karajan's reading - my main reference point for comparison - is often longer breathed and grander, and the sound a little more plush, less pointed - but I haven't heard many complaints about either his conducting or the technical quality of the Decca recording.

"Madama Butterfly" must stand or fall by the quality of its two principals, but I'll deal with the supporting cast first. All are more than adequate, yet each is bettered elsewhere. I have always thought that Robert Kerns's Sharpless, in the Karajan set, has been unfairly criticised for dullness; he has a pleasant voice and responds both wisely and sympathetically to the caddish Pinkerton's self-inflicted predicament. He is no Gobbi, whose nuanced vocalisation, apart from some strain in the upper reaches of his range, is near ideal in the 1954 recording conducted by Gavazzeni. Compared with both of these, Fabio Capitanucci is a bit of a bellower; he has a nice voice but little subtlety. As Suzuki, Enkelejda Shkosi is a little wobbly and matronly compared with Christa Ludwig, though her Flower Duet with Gheorghiu goes very well. Similarly, Cristina Reale's Kate reveals too much wobble in her few phrases. Gregory Bonfatti's Goro has one of those "cutting edge" character tenors which can grate on the ear; I much prefer Michel Sénéchal's silky insolence in the Karajan. Raymond Aceto's Bonzo is simply unacceptable; his uningratiating tone is as bad as I had remembered (from his Capellio in "I Capuleti e i Montecchi"); give me Marius Rintzler's noble sound any day. The chorus is excellent, especially the ladies accompanying Butterfly as they ascend the hill.

Now to the raison d'être of this set: Gheorghiu's Butterfly. As with her recordings of "La Rondine" and "Tosca", both made before she had sung the parts on stage, this is her first essay at this most demanding of lyric-spinto rôles - although you would never guess it. She really lives the part and certain moments are unforgettably realised: the searing, surging despair of her "Ah! m'ha scordata?", the lovely, liquid portamenti in the love duet, the heart-rending cries of "Morta!" in "Sai cos'ebbe cuore" - as Sharpless observes, "Quanta pietà" indeed; she never fails to move. Even without quite having the vocal resources of some of her illustrious vocal forebears, she manages triumphantly the transition from fragile teenager to heart-broken wife and mother to tragic heroine. She cannot emulate the unearthly beauty of Mirella Freni's floated D-flat in the entrance aria - Gheorghiu's is not ideally steady - but she does almost everything else admirably. Her fans will want this set for her performance alone. (There is one puzzling little oddity, given the obvious time and trouble expended on this recording: Gheorghiu fluffs the words at the beginning of Act 2, saying "Perchè rispose" instead of "dispone". A negligible error - but why not re-take?)

Finally, to Jonas Kaufmann's Pinkerton - and for me, here's the rub. I have greatly admired his singing, both live and on disc, although I was far less enthusiastic than some about his singing of the classic Italian tenor rôles on his recital disc; it seems to me that his timbre is far better suited to Weber, Wagner and Bizet's Don José and I hear nothing here to change my mind. I miss the smile in the voice, the Italianate gleam, the seamless legato of a true Puccini tenor like Pavarotti in his prime. Kaufmann's hefty, baritonal sound is certainly thrilling and there is every justification for characterising the cruel, feckless Pinkerton as a bit of a brute. This, apparently, was Kaufmann's conception of Pinkerton as "cold, calculating"; it both suits his voice and exlains why, according to reports, both Gheorghiu and Pappano were urging him to greater passion in the love music, but it robs Pinkerton of an essential vocal allure and the audience of any chance of suspending their condemnation of an essentially unattractive anti-hero. You have to believe that Pinkerton, as a "Yankee vagabondo", temporarily believes his own lies while he is serenading his new child-wife. In addition, I am perturbed by Kaufmann's apparent acquisition of a new vocal bad habit: he repeatedly injects little glottal sobs into what should be a seamless sound. Presumably he does this for emotive effect but too much of "les larmes dans la voix" becomes a tiresome tic. The top of his voice, although often thrilling, does not expand or caress in the manner of singes such as Bergonzi or Björling, thus the climactic B-flat of "America for ever" is uncomfortable, the pianissimi can turn husky, and too many high notes are approached with that little bleat which disrupts the line. I still much enjoyed listening to his virile, impassioned sound, but I found his portrayal of Pinkerton a tad two-dimensional, and I hope that he will not let the glottal habit take root in his voice.

The packaging of this set is a "2CD Limited Edition deluxe clamshell, [with] 152pp booklet, libretto, synopsis, liner notes, [and] photos". In other words, beautifully presented - although the way the booklet rattles inside the over-large box is a bit irritating. Coincidentally, this year sees the 150th anniversary of Puccini's birth; this new recording certainly does him honour it but will not replace the Karajan in my loyalties.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Madama Butterfly, 5 Sep 2011
By 
Martin Hodson (Gwent UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Puccini: Madama Butterfly (Audio CD)
I can honestly say that I really enjoyed the whole of this recording. Both Kaufmann and Gheorghiu are magnificent, the supporting singers are all splendid and the orchestral playing superb under the baton of Antonio Pappano. You will not be disappointed in this recording if you already enjoy the vocal qualities of Kaufmann and Gheorghiu, and I realise that that is an individual choice.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Admirable quartet, 4 Feb 2012
By 
Rufina Noor - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Puccini: Madama Butterfly (Audio CD)
Yes, in the sport there someone must to be a winner ;fortunately in the art the winners can be much more!
In this recording are even five nominates to conquest the highest position.They are equal, they improve each other.
I already have "Butterly" with Sinopoli and Karajan,but with Pappano and his cast ,this opera touch me first time so deeply-I found my Butterfly-Gheorghiu ,so much tender,so poetic,and vulnerable !
Kaufmann very persuasive as lover,and so dramatic in his desperation !
Pappano, Orchestra dell Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia,Gheorghiu and Kaufmann .(This is my favourite cast)
And finally the biggest winner`s are we- the audience!
Real masterpice !!!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Transported to Japan, 13 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Puccini: Madama Butterfly (Audio CD)
Word are insufficient to describe this recording of Madam Butterfly. It is all that I was expecting and a lot more. Antonio Pappano is truly a Puccini expert.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic set of discs!, 17 Jun 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Puccini: Madama Butterfly (Audio CD)
Swift delivery and what a wonderful recording it is!
Great singing and stunning orchestration the best I've ever heard this wonderful Opera ever sung and played, I just wish it were a DVD because I'd love to see the production as well as hear its glorious sounds!
If you know Puccini you will love this set of discs... If you do not know this Opera then you are in for a wonderful experience! I cannot praise it high enough!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning!, 28 Aug 2011
This review is from: Puccini: Madama Butterfly (Audio CD)
Angela Gheorghiu's singing is just stunning. The whole production is stunning. Antonio Pappano captures the emotional intensity, stunningly. The recording quality is stunning, clear, highly dynamic, never shrill. I liked Butterfly least; compared to Tosca, La Boheme, Turandot; but this recording has promted me to buy tickets to see it again. Please record Tosca.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 23 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Puccini: Madama Butterfly (Audio CD)
A wonderful opera by Puccini - pleasant listening
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars disappointing, 1 Feb 2013
This review is from: Puccini: Madama Butterfly (Audio CD)
Having heard Pappano conduct this piece in the theatre, with a very different cast, this recording as a disappointment. Gheorgiu sounds almost studiously uninvolved and although her voice is beautifully captured (if not a little flatteringly so in scale terms) Butterfly need more personality, nuance and passion. The contrast is all the more striking in the duets with Kaufman who walks with giants such as Bergonzi, Domingo and Bjorling in terms of the respect he pays to this music. Of course we get the modern sound and the rich authentic sound of the Santa Celia orchestra, but will this performance make you forget Scotto, Freni, Callas, de los Angeles or even Anna Moffo. It certainly hasn't for me.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ms Gheorghiu insists on verismo!, 30 Aug 2012
This review is from: Puccini: Madama Butterfly (Audio CD)
I have always kept well away of Butterfly performances. If one believes in the theatrical aspect of opera, as I do, then one knows that it is very difficult to find a soprano that is able to get by, let alone excel, in portraying a fragile 15 (!!!) yr old Japanese girl. An admirable exception is the 1995 film starring Chinese soprano Ying Huang. As far as recordings go I would recommend the soundtrack of the film and of course the legendary 1966 Scotto recording. I have to admit that Angela Gheorghiu is doing very well for herself. I don't know how she does it, but she does it. She manages to convince the ROH to mount new productions for her and EMI to finance studio recordings. Despite what the artistic results may be one has to be grateful to her for this fact alone: keep operatic things going. Her voice is expressive, more so than any other soprano today, but is small in size. Against a terryfing spinto role than this one she sounds strained and sometimes overwhelmed by the orchestra. Jonas Kaufmann has a dark inelastic voice, usually not suited to the Italian repertoire, but here he is doing fine, because after all, he is portraying a dark character. Antonio Pappano is probably the best opera conductor we have today. He conducts the singers first and the orchestra second. But Puccini is Puccini and he cannot do miracles. There are moments, especially in the duets, that the soprano voice disappears behind the tenor and the orchestra. So this is an honest production of a much loved masterpiece. Artistically, it doesn't add anything to previous attempts. However, it will please the fans of the soprano and the tenor.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Puccini: Madama Butterfly
Puccini: Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini (Audio CD - 2009)
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews