[Met Performance] CID:119570

Madama Butterfly
The Bat
Metropolitan Opera House, Wed, June 3, 1936

Debut : William Fisher

Madama Butterfly (242)
Giacomo Puccini | Luigi Illica/ Giuseppe Giacosa
Edith Mason [Last performance]

Joseph Bentonelli

Helen Olheim

George Cehanovsky

Lodovico Oliviero

Norman Cordon

Wilfred Engelman

Kate Pinkerton
Jarna Paull

William Fisher [Debut]

Gennaro Papi

The Bat (5)
Johann Strauss II
Holly Howard

Lew Christensen

Charles Laskey

Masked Lady
Leda Anchutina

Masked Lady
Annabelle Lyon

Helen Leitch

William Dollar

Can-Can Dancer
Rabana Hasburgh

Lady of Fashion
Kathryn Mullowny

Lady of Fashion
Gisella Caccialanza

Lady of Fashion
Nana Gollner

Lady of Fashion
Elise Reiman

Lady of Fashion
Daphne Vane

Josef Levinoff

Eugene Loring

Wilfred Pelletier

Review 1:

Review of Noel Strauss in The New York Times


Opera by Puccini Heard in First and Only Presentation During Popular Season.


Joseph Bentonelli Takes Part of Pinkerton-Character Ballet, 'The Bat,' Follows.

For the first and only time during the popular season at the Metropolitan Opera House an opera of Puccini came to performance with last night's presentation of "Madama Butterfly." Perhaps it was the unabated drawing power of the music of this composer that was largely responsible for the size of the audience, which was an exceedingly large one, in spite of the heat.

Much of the success of this particular opera depends on the vividness with which its central character is delineated. Whatever the interpretation adopted by the singer entrusted with the role of Cio-Cio-San, it must be one that arouses keen interest during the course of the [first] act, in order to lend sufficient poignancy to the tragic later developments of the story.

It cannot be said that Edith Mason's embodiment of the part accomplished this. Her impersonation all through the earlier part of the opera was too vague and pointless to get anywhere in particular. Only in the final moments of the love duet was she able to make the character come to life in the first act with any semblance of convincing reality. And in the second act her work again was too often bereft of inner life to become deeply compelling.

Miss Mason's singing, while often sympathetic in intention, was not of her best, being given to frequent lapses from pitch, and often becoming barely audible in all but its upper reaches. Butterfly's entrance, which can become one of the most effective episodes in the entire opera, fell flat last night. The soprano sang this music with too great restraint to make it tell, and by omitting the D flat in alt at its close robbed it of its sense of climax at that point. Nor was the "Un bel di," later, propelled with sufficient real feeling to make its emotional content keenly affecting.

But had Miss Mason, who was not without her moments of true appeal, made the most of her role, she alone could not have saved the performance as a whole from possessing no great allure. It was just another "Butterfly," with nothing about it to raise much comment pro or con. Joseph Bentonelli was an agreeable Pinkerton, who sang acceptably, and often with considerable warmth. George Cehanovsky, whose repertoire seems to be unlimited, can always be counted on to give a pleasing and well-considered portrayal of any role he attempts, and did as much for that of Consul Sharpless.

The Suzuki of Helen Oelheim was rather colorless, and there was nothing out of the ordinary in the vocalism brought to the part. Norman Cordon was duly vituperative and strenuous as the Bonze, and proved about the best of the singers of a minor role in the cast. Next to nothing was made of Goro, as enacted by Ludovico Oliviero, and Wilfred Engelman did little more for the Prince Yamadori. The chorus sang well enough to pass muster. As for the settings, they were of the antiquated variety favored for certain of the popular performances. Mr. Papi worked hard and effectively at the conductor's stand.

The opera was followed by the character ballet, "The Bat," which on account of the charm of Strauss's music and the handsomeness of the costuming it boasts, remains one of the most ingratiating of the offerings of the American Ballet Ensemble.

Search by season: 1935-36

Search by title: Madama Butterfly, The Bat,

Met careers