1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The Casting Department should be shot!,
This review is from: Puccini: Madama Butterfly [Blu-ray]  [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
I must admit when I read a bad review about a DVD/Blue-ray disc I usually go out and buy it. I have a deep distrust of critics and have found that 'bad reviews' often translate into glorious performances! However, they've got me this time ... this is very poor indeed.
But let's start out on a positive note: the set was traditional and attractive (and very big!).
From there I'm afraid it's all downhill. Butterfly is a European woman (Raffaella Angeletti) in her 50s (?) and it shows. Don't get me wrong, I can suspend disbelief with the best of them when watching opera, but this was a step too far. The same can be said of Suzuki, a very tall lady with a decent voice and about as Japanese as Yorkshire Pudding. One reviewer commented on Angeletti's far from beautiful looks; I feel this is a bit unfair, as her case wasn't helped by the make-up in act one, which was just appalling (and at some angles downright scary). My gripe is not that she is not 15 ... it's that she hasn't been 15 for a long, long time!
Of course, it's impossible to get a 15 year old Butterfly, but certain older singers (Patricia Racette for the Met is a good example) allow you to suspend disbelief with relative ease. But why, when there are now so many excellent Chinese, Korean and Japanese singers out there, do we need Western performers (particularly when it is being filmed)?
Even so, the 'age thing' was not my biggest problem; my biggest problem was the total lack of any emotional link between the cast, especially Butterfly and Pinkerton (Massimiliano Pisapia). I think this is the worst Pinkerton I've seen; no acting ability whatsoever and an average voice. The best acting came from Nino Batatunashvili (Kate Pinkerton), but she of course is on stage for a very short period of time.
Vocally, this is not great across the board.
If you're not an emotional wreck at the end of this opera it's a very, very poor performance indeed - I wasn't. The two stars are for the set and, indeed, for Angeletti, who the casting department sent up the creek without a paddle.