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Subject: Re: Pinkerton
From: Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 6 Mar 2018 13:05:19 -0700
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I will waste my last post of the day - there is a really beautiful
recording of Butterfly, possibly the first one ever, from 1929 under
Lorenzo Molajoli with a simply gorgeous Rosetta Pampanini, a full big lyric
bordering on the spinto as a very Italian Butterfly with a fine tenor in
Alessandro Granda and a very good Sharpless in Gino Vanelli.  I prefer
Gigli to Granda of course but given my choice, I would take Pampanini and
Margaret Sheridan over Dal Monte any day.

Donald

On Tue, Mar 6, 2018 at 1:00 PM, Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Another great Butterfly whom many do not remember was Galina Gorchakova
> when she made her Met debut in 1995.  The voice was sumptuous, beautiful,
> big, almost Tebaldiesque in this role.  At that time there were few if any
> vocal problems and she was a simply superb Butterfly.  I believe her
> Pinkerton was the equally wonderful  Richard Leech.  This beautiful soprano
> only had 28 performances at the Met between Butterfly in 1995 and her final
> Elisabetta in Don Carlos in 2002.  I know she ran afoul of Valery Gergiev
> and she has said he sabotaged her career after that.
>
> I'm all with Max on the merits of Tebaldi's Butterfly.  It was at best a
> supreme achievement and vocally, she was inimitable.  As Max says, her
> Farewell was frequently referred to as an Italian Immolation.  My first
> recording was the Tebaldi/Bergonzi/Serafin and that is still my favorite,
> along with the De Los Angeles (I love both recordings), Price/Tucker and
> Freni/Pavarotti.  I know many people love the Dal Monte/Gigli but I find
> parts of it hard listening although she is in her way a remarkable
> Butterfly.  My first Butterfly was Scotto, my second and third Kirsten and
> Kabaivanska.  Of recent, Patricia Racette was a wonderful Butterfly and I
> most enjoyed Ermolina Jaho on the broadcast last week.
>
> Donald
>
>
>
> On Tue, Mar 6, 2018 at 12:17 PM, Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>> I think timbre is a key element for Butterfly.
>>
>> As Donald says, much of it lies in the lower and middle voice and the
>> orchestra is huge. A lyric soprano with a great deal of “bite” (persistent
>> forward resonance) in her sound can pull this off (Scotto, Kirsten,
>> Albanese). I think it would have been a problem for Freni in a staged
>> performance environment; her voice bloomed out beautifully on top but it
>> was softer textured in the middle voice. But I love Freni on record.
>>
>> I like a full weight sound in the role. I have the two Tebaldi recordings
>> and I actually prefer the later stereo recording. The sound is still
>> terrific and although she sounds too big, too powerful, too imposing, I
>> think she’s wonderful. Her cackle after she says she’s fifteen makes it
>> sound like an absurd lie and her response to the question about her father
>> (“morto”) makes it sound like she’s talking about Garibaldi but I don’t
>> care. I think it’s note for note the most sumptuous sounding Butterfly I’ve
>> ever heard and, with Bergonzi’s beautiful tenor and Serafin’s slow tempi,
>> the Act 1 love duet is remarkably expansive and spacious. Tebaldi is for me
>> the “reference” of what I want to hear in Puccini’s mini-Immolation Scene
>> at the end, with its demands for sheer sound, power and emotion.
>>
>> The Decca engineers didn’t shy away from capturing the full brightness
>> and dynamics of her voice, meaning that even 60 years later this is still a
>> demanding recording for playback. It takes very good audio gear, lest she
>> sound shrill and overpowering. I still incline to listen to this in analog
>> form: either on open reel tape or the early US stereo release, which spread
>> it over 4 LPs.
>>
>> Another full lyric, approaching lyrico-spinto, whom I liked in the role
>> was Sena Jurinac.
>>
>> Patricia Racette had several good years with it after she took it back on
>> in (I think) 2005, before she started having flatting problems in her upper
>> voice. I liked Sylvie Valayre in the role, who also rose to the occasion
>> with the final scene. More recently, I thought Lianna Haroutounian did some
>> beautiful things, but as is becoming more frequent, I was too aware of her
>> consciously saving herself for the big moments.
>>
>> Sent from my iPad
>>
>> > On Mar 6, 2018, at 9:16 AM, Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> >
>> > Bob is probably right.  Butterfly looses some credibility with a
>> Brunnhilde
>> > as Cio-Cio-San, but its a hard sing, constant pounding in the middle
>> voice
>> > with those rises above over a huge orchestra.  For me, a true lyric,
>> just
>> > doesn't have the chops - may in a small theatre with a reduced
>> orchestra?
>> > De Los Angeles was of course much more lyric then Tebaldi but it was
>> hardly
>> > a small voice.
>> >
>> > Sorry, I know this is a bit late.  I wrote it days ago and never hit the
>> > send button.
>> >
>> >> On Sun, Mar 4, 2018 at 4:51 PM, Bob Rideout <[log in to unmask]>
>> wrote:
>> >>
>> >> Tom
>> >>
>> >> I agree with you completely about Tebaldi's rather heroic sound in two
>> >> roles that I have much more enjoyed in the hands of lighter voiced
>> >> singers like Albanese and Scotto.
>> >>
>> >> But -
>> >>
>> >> the opera's history tells a very different story, as do Puccini's own
>> >> choices, at times. After the failure of Milan's World Premiere, he
>> >> chose Salomea Kruscelnicka (spelled a bazillion different ways)
>> >> for the second incarnation at Brescia, she who was just about
>> >> the most famous Brunnhilde of her generation. Emmy Destinn,
>> >> another dramatic soprano, had huge success in  the role at the
>> >> Met and elsewhere. And so it has gone for over a century, lyrics
>> >> and spintos, even dramatics, alternating in the role, many of each
>> >> type with great success.
>> >>
>> >> What is puzzling is that Puccini clearly saw the role as the province
>> >> of the light lyric when he chose Rosina Storchio for the World
>> >> Premiere. He made a 180 degree turn for the Brescia version with
>> >> Kruscelnicka, though the major musical changes had little to do
>> >> with his tragic heroine. They mainly involved the chorus, the many
>> >> comprimarios (English) and Pinkerton, for whom "Addio, fiorito
>> >> asil" was added.
>> >>
>> >> All that said, I prefer a lighter sound, one that conveys the youth
>> >> and vulnerability of the "protagonista".
>> >>
>> >> Bob
>> >>
>> >>> On Sun, Mar 4, 2018 at 17:59 tom ponti <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> >>>
>> >>> Just a personal opinion but as beautiful as Tebaldi sounds on her
>> >>> Butterfly and Boheme recordings, I find her voice just a bit too
>> large or
>> >>> heavy for these roles, who are supposed to be slight and fragile young
>> >>> women.  Victora's voice is every bit as beautiful as Renata's but
>> lighter
>> >>> and younger sounding. Freni, though she never sang the complete role
>> on
>> >>> stage, IMO, has an ideal sounding voice for Butterfly. Price is
>> gorgeous
>> >> on
>> >>> her recording with a lighter sounding voice than Tebaldi's. Callas,
>> as I
>> >>> recall, lightened her voice and manages to sound like a young woman on
>> >> her
>> >>> recording. Scotto is lovely, especially for her, on the recording with
>> >>> Bergonzi as well as being dramatically outstanding. But then, is it
>> >>> possible to not be moved by any Butterfly with a good sounding voice
>> and
>> >>> decent acting ability?
>> >>>
>> >>>
>> >>> ________________________________
>> >>> From: Discussion of opera and related issues <
>> [log in to unmask]
>> >>>
>> >>> on behalf of Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
>> >>> Sent: Sunday, March 4, 2018 5:35 PM
>> >>> To: [log in to unmask]
>> >>> Subject: Re: [OPERA-L] Pinkerton
>> >>>
>> >>>    I saw Brandon Jovanovich as Pinkerton.  Obviously he made a
>> >> tremendous
>> >>> impression.  He had the voice (which was somewhat more lyrical than
>> it is
>> >>> now that he sings heavier stuff) and he really looked the part.  This
>> was
>> >>> about eight years ago.
>> >>>
>> >>>    Speaking of Butterfly, I decided to listen to my newly remastered
>> CD
>> >>> version with Tebaldi/Bergonzi under Serafin.  Bergonzi sounds so young
>> >> and
>> >>> his singing is ideal.  Tebaldi?  Her Butterfly was as Japanese  as
>> >> lasagna,
>> >>> her interpretation very generalized ------- but the SOUND that she
>> made!
>> >>> For example, the phrases where she tells Pinkerton that she wants to
>> go
>> >> to
>> >>> HIS church are voiced with a beauty of sound that I've heard from no
>> >> other
>> >>> soprano ever.  Yeah, she flats just a bit at the end of her entrance,
>> but
>> >>> overall her voice sounds like the pitchers of cream that so many
>> critics
>> >>> talked about.  It was an Italian voice in an Italian opera and for
>> >> Tebaldi
>> >>> it was more than enough.  Will we ever hear a Butterfly with a voice
>> like
>> >>> this again?   The only other soprano who comes nearest this is
>> Leontyne
>> >>> Price (with Tucker).  Of course there are the Callas and Scotto
>> >>> recordings------- where each are aiming for totally different effects.
>> >>> Surely all four of these great sopranos belong in the great Butterfly
>> >>> pantheon.
>> >>>
>> >>>    I also think it a shame that RCA never saw fit to give Albanese and
>> >>> Peerce a complete Butterfly.  The extended excerpts from 1955 are
>> good,
>> >> but
>> >>> perhaps should have been recorded a few years earlier.
>> >>>
>> >>>> On March 4, 2018 at 1:43 PM Maxwell Paley wrote:
>> >>>>
>> >>>>
>> >>>>    The huge weight of the opera is on the soprano (I’d actually say
>> >>> it’s on both the soprano and conductor), but a really excellent
>> Pinkerton
>> >>> makes a huge difference. A Pinkerton who is handsome, sexually
>> attractive
>> >>> and who has a melting voice can make us feel a much greater empathy
>> and
>> >>> understanding for Butterfly. An unpleasant looking or sounding lout
>> of a
>> >>> tenor reinforces the notion that she’s totally deluded.
>> >>>>
>> >>>>    I saw several great famous ones - Carreras, Aragall (both during
>> >> the
>> >>> 1974 San Francisco season when it seemed Scotto had a different tenor
>> for
>> >>> each performance), Jovanovich and Aragall with Racette, etc. But one
>> who
>> >>> really stuck in my memory wasn’t a major celebrity but did something
>> >>> special with the role. This was a Welsh tenor, Arthur Davies, whom I
>> saw
>> >> in
>> >>> London in December of 1992 with Yoko Watanabe as Butterfly.
>> >>>>
>> >>>>    If you Google Davies and see close up pictures, you’ll wonder what
>> >>> the big deal is. From the audience, with makeup on, he looked like he
>> was
>> >>> somewhere in his late 20s and the voice was fresh and clean. In
>> physique
>> >>> and deportment, he was as handsome and attractive a Pinkerton as I’ve
>> >> ever
>> >>> seen and one totally understood Butterfly being completely wrapped up
>> >> with
>> >>> him.
>> >>>>
>> >>>>    Max Paley
>> >>>>
>> >>>>    I was shocked later to find out he was already in his early 50s.
>> >>>>
>> >>>>>> On Mar 4, 2018, at 10:14 AM, Jon Goldberg wrote:
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>>        I think what is undeniably true is that we see the story of
>> >>> the opera through Butterfly.
>> >>>>>        That doesn't mean the other characters - any of them - are
>> >>> less important - but just that
>> >>>>>        it's her journey that we follow.
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>>        Had Puccini wanted us to see this more through Pinkerton's
>> >>> eyes, we might have had the
>> >>>>>        wedding scene between him and Kate, for instance, or the
>> >> scene
>> >>> where Sharpless tells
>> >>>>>        him about the child and convinces him to come back to Japan.
>> >>> But what we have instead
>> >>>>>        is a much stronger drama where the effect of Pinkerton's
>> >>> absence in Act II is palpable.
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>>        It's also interesting to note that the Belasco play starts
>> >>> with Act II of the opera plot -
>> >>>>>        Pinkerton's entire role is reduced to a very short appearance
>> >>> at the end. Puccini and his
>> >>>>>        librettists went back to the original John Luther Long short
>> >>> story for what became Act I.
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>>>        On Sun, 4 Mar 2018 15:42:21 +0000, Bob Rideout wrote:
>> >>>>>>
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