[Met Tour] CID:150280

Madama Butterfly
Boston Opera House, Boston, Massachusetts, Mon, March 28, 1949

Madama Butterfly (295)
Giacomo Puccini | Luigi Illica/ Giuseppe Giacosa
Dorothy Kirsten

Charles Kullman

Lucielle Browning

John Brownlee

Alessio De Paolis

Melchiorre Luise

George Cehanovsky

Kate Pinkerton
Inge Manski

John Baker

Giuseppe Antonicelli

Review 1:

John Wm. Riley in the Boston Globe

Dorothy Kirsten Sings Title Role in Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly”


When John Luther Long more than 50 years ago penned his tearful tale of Cio-Cio-San, the Madame Butterfly who loved an American Naval officer, he probably had no idea that it ever would get beyond the covers of his book. And when David Belasco picked it up, swiftly made it into a play to be acted on the same bill with a weak comedy of his which needed a crutch to lead on, he probably had no thought for its future.


But Puccini was urged by a friend to come to London from Italy to see this play which looked like good opera material. It caught his fancy immediately. Here was a tale of sentiment and pathos, of dissimilar loves of a brief meeting between East and West which could have no permanence and it aptly suited his rich musical style. None of these three men immediately involved in the creation of “Madama Butterfly” could have seen ahead to what would happen in the city in which they laid their story. None could foresee that Nagasaki would one day have a different meaning for a modern world, nor that their story of love between East and West might have a wider meaning too.


“Madama Butterfly” was not an instant success. It was badly received at its first performance in Milan in 1904, although a few months later, after a few slight revisions had been made, it quickly gained favor.


Last evening’s performance at the Boston Opera House was everything but routine. Dorothy Kirsten again sang the title role in as believable fashion as an Occidental can. Her makeup, clothes and manner are as nearly authentic as possible. And her singing is notable for the manner in which it transmits the feelings of Cio-Cio-San to the audience. Technically excellent, her vocalism also has a warm, convincing degree of expression.


Miss Kirsten could not have done so well without strong support. And that she had from all members of the cast. But her strongest helper was Giuseppe Antonicelli conducting the orchestra in the pit. He directed with care for nuance and effect, with obvious affection so that you knew he loved the piece and made his feeling felt.


The performance on the stage rose to the occasion. Miss Browning was excellent as helping hand, Suzuki. Mr. Kullman really looked like Pinkerton, the young naval officer, and generally sang well. Mr. Brownlee was a pillar of strength as United States Consul Sharpless. The other roles are rather minor, but all were competently done.


Of the production one might make the single reservation against the scenery for the second and third acts. It’s beginning to look its age. Nevertheless, this was a fine performance, and we owe special thanks to Miss Kirsten and Mr. Antonicelli.

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