The Metropolitan Opera HD Live: Season 3, Episode 9

Puccini: Madama Butterfly (7 Mar. 2009)

TV Episode  |   |  Music
8.5
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Ratings: 8.5/10 from 14 users  
Reviews: 3 user

On shore leave in Japan, Lt. Pinkerton is ready for action and finds it in a wedding broker. Cio-Cio-San naively believes the marriage is real. Wait until the real Mrs. Pinkerton hears about this: there's sure to be a Little Trouble ahead.

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Title: Puccini: Madama Butterfly (07 Mar 2009)

Puccini: Madama Butterfly (07 Mar 2009) on IMDb 8.5/10

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Patricia Racette ...
Marcello Giordani ...
Dwayne Croft ...
Maria Zifchak ...
Greg Fedderly ...
Laura Fries ...
Cio-Cio-San's Relatieves - Cousin
Linda Mays ...
Cio-Cio-San's Relatieves - Mother
Jean Braham ...
Cio-Cio-San's Relatieves - Aunt
Stephen Paynter ...
Cio-Cio-San's Relatieves - Uncle Yakuside
Keith Miller ...
Christian Jeong ...
Dean Peterson ...
David Won ...
Edyta Kulczak ...
Kevin Augustine ...
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Storyline

On shore leave in Japan, Lt. Pinkerton is ready for action and finds it in a wedding broker. Cio-Cio-San naively believes the marriage is real. Wait until the real Mrs. Pinkerton hears about this: there's sure to be a Little Trouble ahead.

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7 March 2009 (USA)  »

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User Reviews

 
Love the opera, very much liked the performance
13 December 2011 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Madama Butterfly doesn't have the most plausible story in the history of opera, however it does have some really touching moments. The characters are memorable, if very difficult to cast, and the music is magnificent throughout, as great as Un Bel Di Vedremo and Humming Chorus are, the act 1 duet and the final scene are the highlights of the opera for me.

When it comes to productions of Madama Butterfly, I loved the Raina Kabaivanska, Anna Moffo and Catherine Malfitano productions, and liked the Ponelle film with Freni and Domingo, but I have to give it to the 1986 production for the authenticity of the sets and one of the best Sharpless's I've heard or seen.

This Madama Butterfly though is very good. First of all I feel I must credit the costumes and sets. They are simply gorgeous and very authentic, particularly at the start of act 1. As usual the high definition looks fantastic and the videography and sound are very good.

I do agree however that act 3 is too dark, excepting the final scene which was heart-rending, making it rather dull emotionally. I have also noted the controversy regarding the puppet playing Cio-Cio San's son, my feelings were mixed on it actually, the puppet did look great and reacted very well to Racette and she to him, but I did question whether he fitted within the setting and as moving as the final scene was I did wonder whether it would have been even better with a real boy on stage.

From a musical point of view, the production excels. The orchestra play lyrically with attention to musicality, and Patrick Summers' conducting is solid, very sensitive and careful, even if some scenes could have done with more lushness. The chorus perform the humming chorus beautifully, and Minghella's staging apart from one controversial feature is imaginatively done.

Although there are a few weak points, the cast are generally good. Patricia Racette was very effective in the title role. I can understand why some mayn't like her voice, some of her high notes especially in Un Bel Di Vedremo are rather thin and she has a tendency to attack notes and finish flat. However, there is a lot of musicianship and intelligence in her singing. Dramatically, is she the right age for the role. No she isn't, then again none of the Butterflys I've heard or seen(my personal favourites being Freni and Scotto) are. However, a lot of effort is done into making her youthful and authentic and she is outstanding in the final scene.

Marcello Giordani has been an uneven singer for me. There have been times where he is great, such as in the role of Des Grieux, but others where the singing is generally good but the acting isn't quite there, in this case I always felt his Calaf could've been more heroic. This said, I do think he is excellent as Pinkerton, with his top notes ringing and his chemistry with Racette very convincing, their act 1 duet is one of the beautifully sung and erotically charged performances I have heard or seen of this particular duet. His acting is mostly good with such a fascinating and realistic approach, though I do think Pinkerton is a little too romantic, not quite dark in character enough and sounded tragic a little too soon which makes his self-pity less powerful in my view.

Maria Zifchak's Suzuki is very good I think. Perhaps she is not so good pitching exactly on the note, some of it does sound wobbly and when the pitch is right on it takes too long to do so, however the sympathy and pessimism of the character contrasts wonderfully with Cio Cio San's naivety and both Zifchak and Racette do very well conveying this. Her acting is excellent, I never found it overdone.

But of the cast, the most consistent was Dwayne Croft as Sharpless, the voice-of-reason character. To me, Croft's portrayal is the most sympathetic, the most nuanced and the most musical of the character since Giorgio Zancanaro. While the voice has a slightly hard edge to it, it still has a pleasing tone and matches the portrayal itself excellently, and his acting contains some of the best of the production.

All in all, I liked it very much, it is not my favourite Butterfly but one I appreciate. 8/10 Bethany Cox


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