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Madame Butterfly (Widescreen)

Ying Huang , Richard Troxell , Frédéric Mitterrand    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 138.15
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Madame Butterfly is the heartwrenching story of a beautiful young geisha who sacrifices her family, her religion and, ultimately, her life for her American husband. Butterfly is the young bride of Lieutenant Pinkerton, who buys Butterfly's love while stationed in Japan and with no intention of ever taking her home to America. Martin Scorsese presents this award-winning film based on the popular opera. 133 minutes. Cast:

Ying Huang: Cio-Cio-San
Richard Troxell: Pinkerton
Ning Liang: Suzuki
Richard Cowan: Sharpless
Jing Ma Fan: Goro
Christopheren Nòmura: Prince Yamadori
Constance Hauman: Kate Pinkerton


Like the finest of film scores with its fluid beauty and succession of intensely romantic tunes, Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly has a surprisingly cinematic feel. In 1995 director Frederic Mitterand exploited this quality of the story, exposing a young woman's disillusionment against a backdrop of cultural chasms. Shot on location, with Tunisia doubling convincingly as a turn-of-the-century Nagasaki, this Butterfly shines with fragile beauty. The house becomes a brilliantly used set, at once airy and full of the scent of flowers and at the same time a cage for the trapped woman. Archive footage of bygone Nagasaki is used skillfully to underline the distance between the 15-year-old bride and Pinkerton.

Purists may prefer a more traditionally robust, stage-bound Butterfly, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a more visually heartbreaking interpretation. Chinese soprano Ying Huang doesn't rock the rafters with her vocal power; hers is a tender, delicately observed performance. Tenor Richard Troxell's self-seeking Pinkerton is well sung. Overall, this is a haunting cinematic treatment of an enduringly popular opera. --Piers Ford

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous... Captivating... Sensitive March 4 2004
Fabulous filmed rendition of the opera! Beautiful visuals! But, most of all, I'm thrilled to have discovered Ying Huang who's performance is beautiful, sensitive, and her voice gorgeous (delicate, sweet yet masterful without that "Southerland screech" that so many sopranos have. The first time I watched it, I did so for days! :-)
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Butterfly in a Cage Oct. 29 2003
Format:VHS Tape
"I am like the goddess of the moon,
the little goddess of the moon
who comes down by night on the bridge of the sky." ~Butterfly
I love this romantic escape into a fantasy world of dreamy opera and sometimes the singing can literally make you heady. I fell completely in love with this story after listening to a 1987 London recording from the library.
The story begins near Nagasaki, although this movie was filmed in Tunisia. A Japanese house, terrace and garden is situated on a hill overlooking the harbor. There is a sense of serenity and peace, but this does not fully represent the future.
Lieutenant Pinkerton (Richard Troxell) is selecting a home and Goro brings him into the house to show him all the benefits of the house. He in turn thinks the house is "as delicate as a puff of wind." Which could rather be used to describe his commitment to his new bride, Butterfly (Ying Huang). We can't quite figure out why this naval officer wants to buy a bride when he is just going to leave her trapped in a beautiful cage for three years.
Is this not the entire fantasy of the knight who rescues a woman and then puts her in a tower? Yet, here the knight and the maiden don't seem to share the same commitment to one another and when the knight leaves, he seems to forget to even send a note back to the maiden.
The love duets are magnificent and beyond compare. The world literally dissolves when you watch this movie. The letter scene gives you hope and yet the sheer tragedy of the situation reaches new levels when Butterfly tosses Sharpless out of the house due to his heartless comments about her accepting a proposal from Yamadori.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Un be di vedremo... Dec 14 2002
Format:VHS Tape
This is THE production of Madame Butterfly! Pinkerton does a great job of making you hate him! Ying Huang is SO beautiful! Sometimes she even looks even YOUNGER than 15! And her bell-like voice, although it can lose its operatic quality, is still breathtakingly beautiful! She has the girlish beauty and voice for Butterfly, and gives a heartbreakingly sad performance. Ning Liang is EXCELLENT as Suzuki! Shes also really pretty and has an AMAZING mezzo-soprano! Goro, so often portrayed as this bumbling idiot, is portrayed for what he is, a cruel, cynical villain. Even Kate Pinkerton has a touch of cruelty when she first appears. The Bonzes portrayal of flying in is the only weak point. It looks SO cheesy! It is supposed to be one of the saddest moments and yet it just ruins it. Oh well. The end is especially heart- wrenching! She hears Pinkerton calling to her after she has stabbed herself and she tries to get back up(that part just really makes you tear up!)and then she dies in his arms. Can you sit through that and not cry? Buy this beautiful movie!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Could It Be More Beautiful? Nov. 6 2002
By Z. Yang
There are something very refreshing and appealing about this Madame Butterfly. First of all is the fresh-voiced cast, in which everybody is at the right age, in the right race, and with the right looks. Chinese soprano Ying Huang delivers a most delicate Butterfly. Her transcendent interpretation did benefit from, but not solely depend on, her oriental root. She has shown us that she has much more to offer: her elegant and pellucid soprano, her exquisite technique, as well as her subtleties in rendering the character. She conveys the demureness and femininities of Butterfly naturally, and with such ease that I believe part of the character is simply part of her. Well matched with Ying Huang's pure and light soprano, Richard Troxell's soaring and not-so-dark tenor portrays a very impressive Pinkerton. This Pinkerton would make you believe that if there were no Lieutenant Pinkerton, there would be no Madame Butterfly. Troxell's undeniable charms and handsome looks has very well justified Pinkerton's attractiveness which had captured Cio-Cio San's heart. Although at the end this is a character that ought to be condemned for his cowardliness of deserting Butterfly, you'd never question his infatuation with Butterfly, and you'd truly believe his pain and sorrow when he finally understood Butterfly's loyalty and realized that it's already too late. Both Troxell and Huang demonstrate superb acting, not at all inferior to their singing. In the wedding night duet their soulful performance and passion-pervaded singing bring out the uttermost beauty of romantic feeling. Other cast members are great too, especially Ning Liang, who sings Suzuki. She has an amazingly rich mezzo-soprano. You'd be impressed instantly as soon as she starts to sing, and then you'd hope she could sing more. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Butterflies on the brain! May 30 2002
As a musical-theater enthusiast unfamiliar with the opera world, I stumbled across this production almost by accident when a visit to a ballet performance of Butterfly sent me scuttling thru the local libraries in search of Puccini's original opera. Used to thinking of opera as somewhat "stuffy", I was unprepared for what I found- I was completely caught off guard by the quality of the acting, and the power of the music. Within 5 minutes I had nearly forgotten I was watching classical opera in a foreign language with subtitles, and thought I was seeing yet another of my favorite musicals (believe me, from someone as enamored of Les Mis as myself, that is VERY high praise!) And the more I watch it, the more I notice of the care and detailing the actors and director put into this performance (try watching the consul Sharpless- carefully- right before he has to answer Butterfly's question about when robins build their nest).
I think it would be nearly impossible to find another version so accessible to non-opera people like myself. More seasoned opera lovers may, perhaps, criticize the singing; I personally cannot hear why. Huang may be light, but she holds her own against the best "Butterflies" out there; and no other Sharpless I've heard even comes close to Cowan's. Having since compared this with a number of other versions (including Scotto and Freni), I have found no other version yet that more closely captures, for me, the essence of these characters; the carefree, irresponsible charm and rogueishness of Pinkerton, the compassionate gallantry of Sharpless, the innocent naivete and heartbreaking vulnerability of Butterfly. "B-List singers", indeed!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 27 days ago by ANTHONY MAPP
5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular Production!
From beginning to end, this Butterfly is enchanting and masterfully acted by young and most talented Yin Huang as well as the rest of the cast. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Marthe Simard
5.0 out of 5 stars très beau film d'opéra
je suis très content d'avoir trouvé cet opéra de Puccini, dans la réalisation de Frédéric Mitterrand. Read more
Published on Jan. 12 2011 by cgv95
5.0 out of 5 stars Butterfly
I have a number of productions of this opera - both video and audio, but this is, by far the best of the bunch. Read more
Published on Oct. 24 2010 by John Langston
5.0 out of 5 stars Is Cio Cio San an indigenous character?
A friend of me, who is an expert antropologist, said that the similitudes between the japanese women and the Nahuatl women from Mexico are so evident, that he theorizes that they... Read more
Published on April 27 2004 by Paulino Partida
3.0 out of 5 stars Puzzling choices
More and more directors are choosing to expose the musical fantasy that is opera to cinematic reality. Read more
Published on March 10 2004
2.0 out of 5 stars Clips of Nagasaki
The voices are passable. Butterfly is no beauty. The dubbing in of scenes in black and white of that era to accompany one of the most beautiful interludes in opera is a sheer... Read more
Published on Jan. 12 2004 by manuel M avalos jr
2.0 out of 5 stars THE WORST CIO CIO SAN EVER
Ms. Ying Huang is so dull and old. Madame Butterfly is a teeage girl. Ying Huang acts like an old woman. Her singing is dull. I can't stand it.
Published on Nov. 26 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite
I cannot imagine a better movie treatment of Madama Butterfly than this. In fact, it may be a long time before another one is attempted, simply because this is one tough act to... Read more
Published on Oct. 26 2003 by A. Aguero
5.0 out of 5 stars A Deeply Moving Production of Remarkable Beauty
Madam Butterfly is the story of a young Japanse woman of great determination who marries an American sailor in the Japan of a century ago. Read more
Published on March 30 2003 by M. F TERRIS
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