[Met Tour] CID:177630

Madama Butterfly
American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Tue, April 1, 1958

Madama Butterfly (361)
Giacomo Puccini | Luigi Illica/ Giuseppe Giacosa
Antonietta Stella

Carlo Bergonzi

Margaret Roggero

Mario Zanasi

Alessio De Paolis

Osie Hawkins

George Cehanovsky


Kate Pinkerton
Madelaine Chambers

Calvin Marsh

Dimitri Mitropoulos

Review 1:

Review of Max de Schauensee in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin

Japanese Production of 'Madama Butterfly' Is Brilliant Climax to the Met Opera Season

The Metropolitan Opera Association ended its current season of seven performances at the Academy of Music last night with its brand-new production of Giacomo Puccini's "Madama Butterfly." A capacity house that extended to standees upstairs and extra chairs placed in the aisles applauded not only Miss Antonietta Stella (the new Cio-Cio-San) and her associates. but also the authentic Japanese production staged by Yoshio Aoyama with settings by Motohiro Nagasaka. The Metropolitan has spared no pains in bringing these talented Japanese stage artists from Tokyo where they are associated with the famous Kabukiza Theater. The result was that authenticity and novelty were brought to an opera which had fallen into the rut of countless routine performances.

Delicate Settings

Mr. Nagasaka's settings of cherry blossom season in Japan had the delicacy and elusiveness of Japanese prints while Mr. Aoyama worked wonders with a cast of Western artists, successfully giving them every detail and nuance of Japanese movement and physical reaction. Where the Metropolitan management has been especially successful in this courageous undertaking is in the fusing of Oriental delicacy and reserve with a full-blooded Italian score. for there is no mistaking the fact that "Butterfly," for all its Japanese locale, is an opera of soaring Italian passion,

Conducting Excellent

Dmitri Mitropoulos who conducted last night must be a source or constant joy to his singers. For while Mr. Mitropoulos can generate and sustain operatic tension with the best of them, he also has the wisdom to realize that his cast will do its best work if it has some leeway and does not have to deal with a metronome. This was the situation last night as the Greek maestro conducted in eloquent and revealing fashion.

Warm Cio-Cio-San

Conscious of the novelty of the production, Rudolf Bing has been more than right in furthering this novelty with singers who had never sung the opera's principal parts in former Metropolitan productions. Thus we had Miss Stella as an outstanding Butterfly, Carlo Bergonzi, singing his first Metropolitan Pinkerton, and Mario Zanasi as the American consul, Sharpless. Tenor and baritone made their Philadelphia debuts last night.

Miss Stella is not a fragile Cio-Cio-San, either vocally or physically, but she is young and warm and the possessor of a lovely lirico-spirito voice. Furthermore she has responded to the training of the Japanese directors so that she is able to bring complete and effective illusion to the role. Miss Stella's final scene was particularly heartrending and she had many of her listeners in tears. She was given a tremendous and very personal ovation at the opera's close.

Mr. Bergonzi and Mr. Zanasi are very musicianly singers. The tenor, of roly-poly build, nevertheless moves about the stage with authority, has excellent style in a voice of fine quality and high tones which he reaches with ease. The soaring high C, which he and Miss Stella sustained at the close of the taxing love duet, was a case in point.

Others in Cast Excel

Mr. Zanasi made a trim and dignified figure of the American consul. bringing resonant tone and clear diction to the part. His Sharpless was an ever-moving element in the drama. I have not seen better Suzukis than the one presented by Miss Margaret Roggero, last night. It was graceful and beautifully sung, stressing the doglike faithfulness of the character. Then there was Alessio De Paolis' flinty Goro, Osie Hawkins' vigorous Bonze, and George Cehanovsky's well sung Yamadori.

The costumes provided by Mr. Nagasaka and their brilliant colors played no small part in an evening of which the Metropolitan may well be proud. Farewell until next Fall.

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