[Met Performance] CID:220030

Madama Butterfly
Metropolitan Opera House, Thu, January 1, 1970

Debut : Enrico Di Giuseppe

Madama Butterfly (491)
Giacomo Puccini | Luigi Illica/ Giuseppe Giacosa
Martina Arroyo

Enrico Di Giuseppe [Debut]

Shirley Love

Theodor Uppman

Paul Franke

Clifford Harvuot

Gene Boucher

Nora Feuerstein

Kate Pinkerton
Judith Forst

Robert Goodloe

William Mellow

Francesco Molinari-Pradelli

Yoshio Aoyama

Motohiro Nagasaka

Stage Director
Patrick Tavernia

Madama Butterfly received eight performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Speight Jenkins in the Dallas News

Met Produces Exciting 'Butterfly'

The Metropolitan Opera began the 1970's with an exciting, well-balanced and dramatic performance of "Madam Butterfly." In choosing "Butterfly" to inaugurate a decade might seem to augur a stale approach, but the particular conglomeration of artists gathered together here made a mockery of such preconceptions.

Over Martina Arroyo, the Cio-Cio-San, it would be easy to grow rhapsodic. She goes into the role with a detriment: A fairly tall, rather heavy woman, she could not possibly be confused for a Japanese. Yet before she entered, after her first few notes sung as she climbed the hill to the familiar house in Nagasaki, any physical considerations vanished. The moneyed sheen of her large and well-controlled voice, her seamless range and accuracy of pitch made her Butterfly a vocal delight.

But that only touches a part of Miss Arroyo's presentation. She really acted with her voice. With it she created a young girl who really believed in her American sailor, and she turned back to the gods of Japan a completely disillusioned woman. The second act contained the secret of this Butterfly: "Un Bel Di" passed as mystical prophecy, a tale told simply to encourage Suzuki and not an aria performed for applause.

The emotional climax of the act took place later and after a proper build-up. It happened when she sang the "Mortes," that description to Sharpless of what would happen to her without Pinkerton, and continued through her high A of triumph at the sight of Pinkerton's ship in the harbor. She made an audience see and hear in this act and throughout the Butterfly that Puccini envisioned not the 64-year-old star vehicle of dull overuse. In short, she had soul.

Her three partners were in no way inferior. Making his Met debut as Pinkerton, Enrico di Giuseppe proved what should now be no news at all: A smaller voice can fill the new Met without screaming as long as the singer knows how to project. Not only did Di Giuseppe look like a svelte sailor and sound like a young man, he acted the callow, selfish Pinkerton to the hilt. His "addio" rang brilliantly as the finale of a first-rate debut.

Not to be outdone, Theodor Uppman presented a particularly moving, tasteful Sharpless. His concern almost palpable, one suffered more with Butterfly because of his anguish. His voice rolled more lyrical and resonant from first to last.

The fourth partner-not Suzuki, though Shirley Love made her into a real character and helped make the flower duet memorable - came as a surprise. It was conductor Francesco Molinari-Pradelli. Throughout his five seasons in New York, this maestro has proved dependable but rarely invigorating, moving or particularly penetrating. In this "Butterfly," he had all three qualities and seemed virtually a new man. To top it off, the orchestra played extremely well for him,

Patrick Tavernia faithfully recreated Yoshio Aoyama's 1958 staging, and Motohiro Nagasaka's sets looked unusually appealing.

The New Year's Day "Butterfly" turned out to be a treasure: an inwardly turned performance that opened an overly familiar work to new meanings and new feelings. It also showed, incidentally; what the Metropolitan Opera can do when the participants in a performance care about bringing an opera to life. May the 70s see that kind of event happen frequently!

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