[Met Tour] CID:128710

Madama Butterfly
Public Hall, Cleveland, Ohio, Fri, April 12, 1940 Matinee

Madama Butterfly (250)
Giacomo Puccini | Luigi Illica/ Giuseppe Giacosa
Hilda Burke

Charles Kullman

Irra Petina

John Brownlee

Alessio De Paolis

Norman Cordon

George Cehanovsky

Kate Pinkerton
Maxine Stellman

Wilfred Engelman

Gennaro Papi

Review 1:

Review in The Cleveland Plain Dealer

Hilda Burke Charms as 'Butterfly' Heroine

The performance of "Madama Butterfly" at the matinee yesterday proved a success worthy to match that of the other Puccini opera, "La Bohème, offered by the Metropolitan at Public Hall this week. And these two operas, both under the expert direction of Gennaro Papi must unquestionably stand among the highest achievements of the present season, which closes tonight with "La Gioconda" playing to a sold-out house, following this afternoon's performance of "La Traviata."

The surprise of yesterday's matinee was the Butterfly of Hilda Burke, who revealed resources heretofore unsuspected by her Cleveland audience. Here, indeed was a Cio-Cio-San of real flesh and blood, and an impersonation worthy to be ranked with the best, and a display of vocal artistry that was brilliant and eminently satisfying. Her soprano had body and substance that made it a strong vehicle for conveying the wide range of passionate as well as intimate and personal feeling contained in her role. And her drawing of the part was as sensitive in detail as it was strong and noble in its broader outlines.

Particularly praiseworthy was her final scene, where the true nobility of the character is revealed in full splendor and alternated with outbursts of tenderness that was heart-rending. Her stark immobility and the dull white tone that came forth, when the full impact of Pinkerton's deception dawned on her, constituted a masterful stroke and created a gripping tension. For that matter, the mounting intensity of the drama which culminates in her suicide was built and sustained with remarkable skill and was made the more impressive by the collaboration of an unusually strong cast, every member of which had a firm grip on those elements of individuality and contrast which make for complete and convincing illusion.

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