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Puccini: Madama Butterfly (Recorded 1955)

Victoria de los Angeles Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Disc: 1
1. Madama Butterfly: E Soffitto ... E Pareti - (Pinkerton, Goro)
2. Madama Butterfly: Questa E La Cameriera - (Goro, Pinkerton, Suzuki, Sharpless)
3. Madama Butterfly: Dovunqua Al Mondo ( Pinkerton, Sharpless, Goro)
4. Madama Butterfly: Quale Smania Vi Prende! - (Sharpless, Pinkerton, Goro)
5. Madama Butterfly: Ah! Ah! Quanto Cielo! ... Ancora Un Passo Or Via (Coro, Butterfly, Sharpless)
6. Madama Butterfly: Gran Ventura - (Butterfly, Coro, Pinkerton, Sharpless, Goro)
7. Madama Butterfly: L'Imperial Commissario - (Goro, Pinkerton, Coro, La Madre, Cugina, Butterfly, Yakuside, Sharpless)
8. Madama Butterfly: Vieni, Amor Mio! - (Pinkerton, Butterfly, Goro)
9. Madama Butterfly: Leri Son Salita Tutta Sola - (Butterfly, Goro, Il Commissario, Coro, Sharpless, Pinkerton, Ufficiale)
10. Madama Butterfly: Ed Eccoci In Famiglia - (Pinkerton, Coro, Il Bonzo, Butterfly, Goro)
See all 18 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Madama Butterfly: Ebbene, Che Fareste? - (Sharpless, Butterfly)
2. Madama Butterfly: E Questo? - (Butterfly, Sharpless)
3. Madama Butterfly: Che Tua Madre Dovra - (Butterfly, Sharpless)
4. Madama Butterfly: Lo Scendo Al Piano - (Sharpless, Butterfly)
5. Madama Butterfly: Vespa! Rospo! Maladetto! - (Suzuki, Butterfly, Goro)
6. Madama Butterfly: Una Nave Da Guerra - (Suzuki, Butterfly)
7. Madama Butterfly: Scuoti Quella Fronda Di Ciliegio - (Butterfly, Suzuki)
8. Madama Butterfly: Or Vienmi Ad Adornar - (Butterfly, Suzuki)
9. Madama Butterfly: Coro A Bocca Chiusa - (Coro)
10. Madama Butterfly: Oh eh! Oh he! Oh he! - (Coro)
See all 18 tracks on this disc

Product Description

Product Description

Amazon.ca

De los Angeles never slips into the false coyness or tear-jerking excesses that afflict many other Butterflys. Her gorgeous lyric soprano and affecting directness make her a moving heroine, one of the finest Butterflys on record. She recorded the role again, but this is the one to go for since de los Angeles is partnered by Di Stefano, whose melting tenor catches Pinkerton's swagger as well as his honeyed warmth. The de los Angeles-Di Stefano partnership makes the love duet unforgettable. Gavazenni conducts with forward momentum and passion, and Tito Gobbi's Sharpless is another big plus. Testament's refurbishment of the 1954 mono recording is excellent. This one's right up there with other great Butterflys by Tebaldi, Callas, and Scotto. --Dan Davis

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A �Butterfly� Shorn of �Tradition� March 15 2000
Format:Audio CD
When Giacomo Puccini premiered "Madame Butterfly" in February 1904, a performance that failed due to a hostile, anti-Puccini audience, the opera was conducted by Arturo Toscanini. When the work was revised and reintroduced in May 1904, the conductor was again Toscanini. In 1910, the composer came to the Metropolitan Opera in New York to hear Toscanini conduct it once more. Puccini wrote "Girl of the Golden West" specifically for the Met and Toscanini. He even specified in his will that no one but Toscanini was to conduct the world premiere of his last opera, "Turandot" (which he did).
The reason I mention all of this is to indicate that Toscanini was Puccini's favorite conductor of his scores. The reason he liked Toscanini was that the conductor pulled together disparate musical elements to produce a cohesive whole, with tension, elasticity and great attention to orchestral detail. In other words, he did not sentimentalize this already sentimental music; he did not allow the singers to over-dramatize in a way that overshadowed the structure of the score.
Though Toscanini did not officially record "Butterfly," there exists a 1928 recording of the opera with soprano Rosetta Pampanini and an orchestra and chorus meticulously rehearsed by Toscanini for performances at La Scala; thus, even though Lorenzo Molajoli's name is on the label, this is often considered the "Toscanini Butterfly." Unfortunately, the poor sonics of that era do not allow one to hear textures very clearly, and the inevitable "side breaks" of the 78-rpm era make for some uncomfortable cuts and splices.
This 1954 recording conducted by Gavazzeni, who greatly admired Toscanini and his approach, goes a long way toward presenting the opera as MUSIC, not melodrama.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
Magnificent, de los Angeles is the perfect Butterfly, Di Stefano the perfect Pinkerton - Throw in Tito Gobbi and you have a Madame Butterfly without peer.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A �Butterfly� Shorn of �Tradition� March 15 2000
By madamemusico - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
When Giacomo Puccini premiered "Madame Butterfly" in February 1904, a performance that failed due to a hostile, anti-Puccini audience, the opera was conducted by Arturo Toscanini. When the work was revised and reintroduced in May 1904, the conductor was again Toscanini. In 1910, the composer came to the Metropolitan Opera in New York to hear Toscanini conduct it once more. Puccini wrote "Girl of the Golden West" specifically for the Met and Toscanini. He even specified in his will that no one but Toscanini was to conduct the world premiere of his last opera, "Turandot" (which he did).
The reason I mention all of this is to indicate that Toscanini was Puccini's favorite conductor of his scores. The reason he liked Toscanini was that the conductor pulled together disparate musical elements to produce a cohesive whole, with tension, elasticity and great attention to orchestral detail. In other words, he did not sentimentalize this already sentimental music; he did not allow the singers to over-dramatize in a way that overshadowed the structure of the score.
Though Toscanini did not officially record "Butterfly," there exists a 1928 recording of the opera with soprano Rosetta Pampanini and an orchestra and chorus meticulously rehearsed by Toscanini for performances at La Scala; thus, even though Lorenzo Molajoli's name is on the label, this is often considered the "Toscanini Butterfly." Unfortunately, the poor sonics of that era do not allow one to hear textures very clearly, and the inevitable "side breaks" of the 78-rpm era make for some uncomfortable cuts and splices.
This 1954 recording conducted by Gavazzeni, who greatly admired Toscanini and his approach, goes a long way toward presenting the opera as MUSIC, not melodrama. Taking the marked, faster tempi that most conductors avoid, he gives us a first act that is positively bucolic in its synergy, and in the long, terrible, inexorable Act 2, he does not allow one excess gulp, sob or over-accented word from his singers. In the meantime, he also brings out all the Oriental flavor of the orchestration that Puccini put into it, more so than any other conductor; and his three principals-de los Angeles, di Stefano and Gobbi-sing with a beauty of tone and attention to line that is remarkable. Many times during the first part of Act 2, the soprano's tone was so effortless, so golden, that I was reminded of a comment that tenor Tito Schipa once made: "Put the words on the lips, and let the breath run them out." Yet for all the exceptional solo singing, the most stunning moment of this recording comes in the "Humming Chorus." Gavazzeni has so perfectly balanced his orchestra and chorus that they give the aural impression of fireflies.
A word of caution, however: because this is a monophonic recording, the singers are all miked exceptionally forward. This means that one should NOT play it at a loud volume, otherwise it will sound harsh and shrill. Keep it at a moderate listening level, and you will discover a "Butterfly" unlike any other, a swirling mélange of musical elements that envelops the listener in its own special sauce. Shorn of slow tempi, bombast and vocal hysterics, "Madame Butterfly" is indeed the magical world Puccini intended it to be.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Butterfly On Record Feb. 1 2005
A Kid's Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
The now late Victoria De Los Angeles was an amazing Madame Butterfly on stage and this album is not only a tribute to the deceased artist but a truly remarkable example of lyric splendor without the sacrifice of drama. In Victoria De Los Angeles, we have the real, true Butterfly of Puccini's invention. She doesn't overdo it like most sopranos in her day did. She didn't do the virginal coyness ad nauseum in the first parts, nor does she reach melodramatic hysteria in the latter scenes. It is true that most of the so-called "greater" Butterflys have been the heavier sopranos of Maria Callas, Leontine Price, Renata Tebaldi and Renata Scotto. But De Los Angeles portrays the real Butterfly in cutting down on the hyperdramatic singing. She is purely lyric and purely passionate. She takes on the role as realistically and humanly as possible. Very few sopranos do this. But in truth, the role ought to be performed by lyric voices- Anna Moffo was another "true Butterfly, as was Mirella Freni and in recent years, well, 90's, it was the Korean soprano Ying Huang who appeared in Frederic Mitterand's gorgeous film.

Victoria makes a fine Butterfly and keeps her "young, lyric and light". She is supposed to be fifteen, and naively in love with the careless and shallow Pinkerton. She shines in such scenes as the duet after "Viena La Serra", in "Un Bel Di Vedremo" and her Entrance Aria "Quanto Cielo". Opposite this fine soprano is tenor Giuseppe Di Stefano, living up to his own hype. He was fabulous as the romantic lead and was always electrifying when paired with Callas (his Cavaradossi is still considered the truest portrayal). As Pinkerton, he indeed takes on the role as believably as De Los Angeles does with her Butterfly. He comes off as careless, deceiving, youthful and arrogant. Puccini never intended to portray Americans as cowards and cads. It was essential that the tenor part was a careless and arrogant man in order to more effectively bring out the suffering of the tragic heroine of Butterfly. He was the "trap" and she was the butterfly prey, its that simple. Di Stefano makes a romantic portrayal but in there you can tell there's as cad. Tito Gobbi as Sharpless is another good performance. Gobbi is always talked about positively in every role he undertook.

Buy this great version of Butterfly. It's worth its weight in gold. But if you want to seek out other "true" versions, look for the following. In VIDEO/DVD: Mitterand's film starring the wonderfully believable Ying Huang and tenor Richard Troxell. From an earlier time, soprano Anna Moffo as Madame Butterfly shot in black and white. In RECORDING/ALBUMS: Look for Mirella Freni as Butterfly. As a fantasy of mine, I wish so much that lyric coloratura soprano Sumi Jo would sing Madame Butterfly. Her Asian roots in Korea would make her as believable as Ying Huang not to mention her beautiful and silvery voice. Also, Renee Fleming would make a gorgeous and tragic Butterfly. Kiri Te Kenawa would have made a fine Butterfly, too, but she never did. Beverly Sills, too would have delivered a good performance.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars de los Angeles and Di Stefano, what more could you ask for. Dec 22 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Magnificent, de los Angeles is the perfect Butterfly, Di Stefano the perfect Pinkerton - Throw in Tito Gobbi and you have a Madame Butterfly without peer.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars De los Angeles is rapturous (but there are drawbacks) Oct. 16 2006
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This classic mono Butterfly from 1954 offers some unique features: De los Angeles is beyond compare as a rapturous, innocent Cio-Cio San whose sincerity is heartbreaking. Di Stefano's Pinkerton is the most excitable portrayal I've ever heard--he's secually aroused and almost nerve-racking in the first act's final duet. For these two singers and the ardent chemistry they generate, nothing less than five stars will do.

But, uh oh, the sonics. As a reviewer below states, the solo singing is so in-your-face that you must listen at lower volume levels to avoid a shrill, distorted effect. The ohter drawback for me is Gavazzeni's rushed, brash conducting. Maybe, as stated below, this is closer to Puccini's intent than the slower, more sensitive leadership we're used to today, but Gavazzeni railroads his singers in the first scene. Thank goodness he's not as frenetic later on. Gobbi is unusuly intense as Sharpless, and somewhat hard of voice. Like the other principals, he pushes the darama forward at every moment.

In all, this is a hyper-emotional Madame Butterfly that keeps you on the edge of your seat. It's unique in the catalog and very much worth knowing.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable Aug. 21 2011
By S. Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Through four decades of opera collecting, I was never really tempted to get Madama Butterfly. I had several Puccini operas and Butterfly is pretty similar, and very single-minded, so ... why bother, right? Lately I've become enthusiastic about getting CDs of classic live performances, and I figured I'd finally get my Butterfly from among the ever-increasing catalog of those. Oddly enough, for some reason I settled on this 1954 studio recording of de los Angeles. It immediately became one (near top) of my favorite recordings.

For one thing, the singing and conducting are so dramatic and vital that it does sound like a live performance. In fact, the close-voice miking that some people complain of reminds me of live performances recorded by the house (not someone in the audience). In my pressing, it is not so close that it changes the sound, the voices are just about perfect in volume for me, and the orchestra in its resonant (but not too resonant) hall sounds beautiful, with trebles perhaps alittle too treble but otherwise rich, detailed sound. In fact, the close miking allows the Suzuki to deliver many of her lines as though she's whispering in Butterfly's ear, which is wonderfully effective (and Canali does it so well).

As to de los Angeles, I couldn't believe my ears. In other recordings I've heard she has specialized in sweet and rather light. But her Act 1 Butterfly is polite but confident and -- yes -- single-minded, with a fuller voice than I expected, as beautiful as I expected. Her power in the rest is breath-taking, almost Callas-like without being savage (Butterfly is not Media). In the notes she is quoted as saying that the range sat so perfectly she could forget about vocal production and become Butterfly, and she surely does; not a subtlety overlooked, not a false note anywhere that I could hear. Her Che tua madre is way up there with Schwarzkopf's Es gibt en Reich.

If she weren't so amazing, Di Stefano would steal the show with reams of golden yet rich sounds that still don't stint on character and emotion. He enters their duet so passionately you think he might not let them finish before jumping her. All this purple praise from a guy who's never been that big a fan. Canali as Suzuki has an appropriately aunty tinge to her voice, which is nonetheless full and attractive, and her vocal acting is terrific. If I had to find a flaw in the recording it would actually be Gobbi, who has quite a vibrato and can't luxuriate in some of the lines as one would hope; his vocal acting is good but not very communicative.

I've never liked Toscanini, but if Gavazzeni is channeling him (as another reviewer suggested) then I'm all for it. As mentioned elsewhere, the reading is fully dramatic yet brings out details everywhere. It doesn't sentimentalize yet reveals all the emotions.

I guess you can tell I'm impressed.
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