Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
Madama Butterfly [143:57]
Madama Butterfly – Renata Tebaldi (soprano); Suzuki – Fiorenza Cossotto (mezzo); Kate Pinkerton – Lidia Nerozzi (mezzo); Lieutenant Pinkerton – Carol Bergonzi (tenor); Sharpless – Enzo Sordello (baritone); Goro – Angelo Mercuriali (tenor); Imperial Commissioner – Virgilio Carbonari (baritone); Prince Yamadori – Michele Cazzato (baritone); Lo Zio Bonzo – Paolo Washington (baritone); Yakuside – Oscar Nanni (baritone)
Chorus and Orchestra of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia Roma/Tullio Serafin
rec. no details of venue or dates supplied
synopsis included but no text or translation
ALTO ALC2015 [143:57]
The part of Madama Butterfly presents certain obvious difficulties to singers and producers. She is referred to as being 15 years old and her innocent and childlike nature is a crucial aspect of the story. Sopranos vary in their response to this. Some, notably Toti dal Monte, adopt a childlike manner and even voice. That can be very effective and moving, but there are potential difficulties with the actual nature of the music, which seems to require a bigger and more mature voice and style. In both her recordings Tebaldi adopts a vocal manner very similar to that she used for other Puccini heroines. The music fits her large warm voice like a glove and she gives immense musical pleasure. At the same time I find it difficult to believe in her dramatically in the more conversational parts of the role, although in the love duet and the final scene she is wholly convincing. Overall this is a legitimate and generally convincing approach.
For all his stylish and musical singing, Carlo Bergonzi does not give a performance that is at all dramatically convincing. He lacks the charm of, say, Gigli or Pavarotti, which can make Pinkerton’s behaviour all the more appalling, and he barely connects with the drama. The same applies even more to Ezio Sordello’s dull Sharpless. The other parts are adequately performed if without any especial distinction.
The greatest asset to the set apart from Tebaldi is the conducting of Tullio Serafin. He was over 80 when it was recorded and in general he has a tendency here to let the music unfold at a steady pace. But when it is phrased so lovingly and idiomatically I would certainly not complain at this. The listener is never conscious of points being made or of any attempt at false excitement or of any of the exaggerated melodrama found on certain generally better regarded versions. On the contrary the music is allowed to speak for itself which it does very movingly.
The recording is clear but the voices are at times too close. There is a good synopsis, although without cues, but no text or translation. There are many good recordings of this opera and it would be idle to pretend that this might be regarded as the best available. It is nonetheless always idiomatically and never less than adequately performed. For anyone whose preference is for the main part to be sung with a warm, mature, voice it would be very much worth considering.
John Sheppard
For anyone whose preference is for the main part to be sung with a warm, mature, voice this would be very much worth considering.