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Fine performance, severely damaged by Zeffirelli staging and especially his endingMarch 15 2015
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This critical review is not in reference to Fiorenza Cedolins' age or other unrelated attributes. I'm really quite weary of almost every Butterfly review lamenting that the leading lady doesn't look 15. Please, folks, get over it. Whatever Fiorenza Cedolins' age is, she is a lovely lady, a great singer, and I would add, a great singing actress.
Musically this production is at a very high standard. It is very well-played and sung thruout. I really enjoyed all the performers. I had no problems with any of them, with the possible exception of Pinkerton's American wife (I think she may have been made to look and sound a little different to add some possibly ironic flavor to Pinkerton's dilemma).
What kills this production is Zefferelli, who as usual has to encrust it with so many sumptuous, unnecessary details. Act I had so many people running around on stage doing so many things, it's a wonder anyone was able to concentrate on a couple of guys discussing Yanqui vagabondos etc.
Still, Act I passed in time and I was still willing to give it four stars, maybe even five if the ending were handled well. Alas, the ending was the worst part by far, it was so unsatisfying that I am sorry to have wasted money and an entire evening watching the performance through.
The ending is so bad I do not feel any guilt whatsoever giving it away. Here it is. All the time Butterfly is preparing for her death, there is a spooky lady of some kind, peering through the bushes watching her. The creature sits there watching her, expressionless, doing nothing to dissuade her. Then as Butterfly delivers the final blow, the spooky lady emerges, and a corps of other spooky ladies emerge and do a ballet around her before the curtain falls. It is, in a word, dumb. It puts an already ailing staging effectively out of its misery. My pre-teen son, also a Butterfly fan, agreed: it was dumb.
What a waste of fine singing and acting ... but I am glad to let you know, if you, like me, hope to be warned of the ones to avoid.
4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Not bad in a disappointing fieldFeb. 26 2011
Donald L. Kass
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Butterfly has proved unusually evasive in video. Of the great recorded Butterflys, only Freni, who never sang the role on stage, got recorded in video. Mirella isn't bad -- she even has a high Db for the entrance -- but Ponnelle's production is a bit over the top in places. Domingo is good but I would have preferred Pavarotti --and Kerns is just not a top rate Sharpless. On balance, this performance and production are better -- as usual with Zefirelli, things sometimes get a bit overcrowded. Cedolins is a bit too zaftig and Giordano looks a bit old -- Pons at least has personality and a decent voice. No real weak points. Cedolins also has a high Db for the entrance. Not the Butterfly of one's dreams perhaps -- but without any of the glaring defects that mark the other videos.