- Language: Italian
- Subtitles: French, Spanish, English, German, Mandarin Chinese
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
- Number of discs: 1
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
- ASIN: B00005OC06
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 225,837 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
Puccini: Madama Butterfly -- 1974 film version/Von Karajan [DVD] [US Import] [NTSC]
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Another more minor problem is that with the exception of a couple of fans for Butterfly and a couple of chairs, no props are used and so a lot of the activity becomes mime and looks rather silly, again detracting from the believability of the whole production
The reason that I have give this performance three stars is because it has a major positive element and that is the music and the singing. Placido Domingo is the conductor of Orchestra CittaLirica and under his baton all the lush beauty of one of Puccini's greatest scores comes out from an orchestra which plays extremely well and a sound recording that captures all the detail exceptionally well for a live outdoor performance. Added to this the four main soloists are excellent. Daniela Dessi is vocally superb as Butterfly, she looks too old of course, but that is true of virtually all sopranos capable of singing this role. With this costuming and makeup, however, it really doesn't matter and she acts the part very well within the limitations of the production silliness. The veteran Juan Pons is vocally and dramatically excellent as the American consul Sharpless and gives a very persuasive and convincing portrayal of the role even though he appears to be dressed as a cricket (allusions to Jiminy Cricket perhaps ?). Fabio Armiliato whilst dressed as some kind of biker storm-trooper still manages to produce powerful, controlled vocals of real quality. The great love duet is very well done even though the usual atmosphere is completely lost in this setting and costume regime. Rossana Rinaldi is an excellent actress with a firm beautiful mezzo voice and seems to be able to portray her own role as Suzuki very effectively in a costume that somehow does suggest the character she is playing.
Overall then this is a musically excellent performance which has potentially interesting costuming but which is let down by the fact that the concept is not consistently carried through in all aspects of the production and therefore fails to give a new insight into the drama and ultimately detracts from the sheer beauty and atmosphere of one of Puccini's most beguiling and romantic tragedies.
Please note that this review has been double-listed, both correctly and wrongly. This is a software problem that is out of the control of reviewers unfortunately and applies to discs with similar titles such as here. Please be patient and do not blame the innocent reviewer. Just scroll on past or not as required. My thanks to readers who have informed me of this problem. Best wishes, Ian Giles.
Madama Butterfly was Puccini's own favourite opera and is a firm favourite with audiences worldwide. This popularity has created strong views and there are as many opinions held about this opera as there are enthusiasts! The following description therefore is simply intended to be more of a guide to aid personal choice rather than a review leading to a firm conclusion.
In this performance, there is a particularly fine balance maintained between the two contrasting characters of Pinkerton and Butterfly which enables them to establish a believable relationship in Act 1. Later in the opera, in Act 3, the impact of Pinkerton's actions seem to finally strike home which enhances the dramatic impact of the opera's conclusion.
In this performance Butterfly (Elmira Vida) portrays her unswerving devotion to both Pinkerton (Carlo Barricelli) and her child totally convincingly. In this she is helped by the show-stealing part played by the little boy who is both wonderful in his role and about the right age - I guess 3 years as it should be. Butterfly is not 15-18 years old as in the story of course, but in this performance she is still able to make it credible that Pinkerton would be smitten by her charms. The roles of Butterfly and Pinkerton are both convincingly acted as well as well sung.
The supporting roles of Suzuki (Annamaria Popescu) and Sharpless (Luca Salsi) are also equally well portrayed and believable with good communication and acting constantly maintained. The remaining solo parts and chorus are all completely satisfactory.
The outdoor set is simple but totally effective. This is a revolving stage showing interior and exterior sides of a Japanese style house with use made of the sliding and translucent panels. These panels enable telling use to be made of shadowy figures such as the arriving and fleeing relatives. Most tellingly it enables an unbending and uncommunicative Kate (Sally Wilson) to be shown in silhouette in contrast to the compliant Suzuki. This totally unyielding posture is maintained to the very end of her part and it makes one fear for the future life of the child in her care.
All the parts are well sung and acted with sustained communication with the intended exception of Kate as above. The outdoor nature of the event is overcome by the use of radio mikes which enable every word to be heard clearly. The translation of the subtitles in English is good and there are detailed booklet descriptions. The camera work is revealing without being invasive and the colours are rendered richly. The sound is presented in DTS-HD, Dolby Digital and stereo and is of good quality.
In summary therefore, the elements of communication and allied acting in this performance and production combine to achieve a dramatically strong and believable presentation. It is unlikely that it will be considered definitive by many but nevertheless, in my opinion, it would be unreasonable to rate it as worth less than 4 stars. It should be able to give many purchasers plenty of satisfaction while still leaving plenty of scope for alternative versions to be appreciated.