I saw the Butterfly when it was first shown on TV, it was
september, 1975. I remember because I had just arrived for my
first season in St. Gallen, we were rehearsing Aida, Anna Reynolds
was singing Amneris and we watched it together at my apartment.
Aside from Ponnelle's quirk of having the singers keep their
mouths closed when singing phrases which they are more thinking
than saying to someone (he does this in the Fiagro film too) I
agree that it is an extremely moving film. The interesting thing
is that originally the end of the love duet was pretty hot; with
Butterfly and Pinkerton in the throws of passion, and pretty
well undressed....it gave a whole new slant on "Vieni! Vieni!"
This was cut and refilmed, much toned down, afterwards. Too bad,
actually. The ending is stunning; Butterfly commits suicide later
than is actually indicated in the score, after Pinkerton sings his
last "Butterfly", he comes into the room just as she plunges the
knife into her stomach, he crashes through the screen, which was
the opening image of the film.