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Subject: Re: Butterfly Broadcast from the Met on WQXR
From: Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 4 Mar 2018 00:50:58 -0600
Content-Type:text/plain
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I emphatically agree.  Superstar tenors(Caruso, Gigli, Tucker,di Stefano, Peerce,Bergonzi, Gedda, Pavarotti, Domingo, Kaufmann, et al.) have recorded the role of Pinkerton but very few of them have performed the role onstage (and if they did, it was very infrequently) for obvious reasons: a. to engage an expensive star tenor for such a relatively short role is a luxury few opera companies could afford; b. it's a good role for a new and beginning tenor and it has  some beautiful music to provide a young tenor with an auspicious debut; c. the opera is dominated and carried by the soprano who undertakes the title role anyway.  If I hear about a Butterfly, I certainly don't ask who's singing Pinkerton or Sharpless.  
    If one cares to search the Met broadcast annals between 1940 and 1958, they will encounter a large number of Albanese Butterfly broadcasts.  In each broadcast, she was given relatively light-voiced, but certainly competent tenors (Melton, Conley, Barioni, Morell, etc.).  I know of no era defining tenor's repertoire where Pinkerton was a "specialty" or a top role. The greatest tenor and baritone will not be able to hold up a sub-par Butterfly.  A great Butterfly, however, cannot be toppled by sub par male singers who perform Pinkerson or Sharpless.  Of course, it's great when the two male supporting roles are well done (also Suzuki), but it's rare bonus indeed.
   By the way, I find the puppet in this production to be very disturbing and creepy and I find those guys operating it to be very distracting.  The first time I encountered this production and saw the puppet, I kept thinking about those "Chucky" movies.  
    Butterfly is a very long role ===== not as long as Norma or Isolde perhaps, but a long role nevertheless considering the length of the opera. 
> On March 3, 2018 at 10:55 PM donald kane <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> 
> How limiting - to have one's enjoyment dependent on repetitions of a single
> performance.  John Alexander was a wonderful tenor, but his Pinkerton was
> not the only one for me: there was Gigli, long before him, and Gedda with
> Maria Callas, Di Stefano, Bergonzi, Konya in German, Kozlovsky in Russian,
> and others.  But no, much as I agree with you about the magic of a tenor
> role
> too often dismissed or misunderstood,  BUTTERFLY wouldn't amount to much
> without Butterfly.  I think the Humming chorus is, the heart of the opera,
> and
> should not be separated from the so called "Act Three".  IMO, Minghella must
> have thought his production was destined for  Radio City Music Hall, with
> the
> Rockettes in obis.  The puppet is a tedious distraction.
> 
> dtmk
> 
> 
> 
> On Sat, Mar 3, 2018 at 9:01 PM, David M. Wagner <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> > I’m in a very small minority on this. For me, this opera belongs to the
> > tenor, as long as the performance is about 50 years old and the tenor is
> > John Alexander.
> >
> > When that’s that case, I wake up at “Dovunque al mondo,” listen carefully
> > to the rest of Act I, wake up again for the Humming Chorus (all mortal
> > flesh is to keep silence for the Humming Chorus), wake up again for “Addio
> > fiorito asil,” and then turn it off bc I can’t handle the end.
> >
> > If John isn’t in it, it’s not a high priority to listen at all. I have
> > however seen the Minghella production on tv, and found it works much better
> > than I thought it would. Minghella faced and solved a problem: there are
> > only so many ways to rearrange sliding paper doors and call it a “new
> > production.”
> >
> > -David Wagner
> >
> >
> > Sent from my iPhone
> >
> > > On Mar 3, 2018, at 7:15 PM, Sklenar, Robert John <[log in to unmask]>
> > wrote:
> > >
> > > As it happens, I caught Ms. Jaho's "un bel dì" on the car radio while
> > running errands, and it was very fine indeed. I must take issue, however,
> > with the opinion of some listers that the opera belongs "entirely" to the
> > soprano singing the title role, the implication being that the quality of
> > the male voices is irrelevant. If Pucccini had intended the male voices to
> > be irrelevant to the overall effect of an opera, he would have written one
> > without male voices; in fact, he did: "Suor Angelica." A successful
> > performance of "Madama Butterfly" requires at least a minimally compentent
> > tenor. This afternoon's performance was therefore a failure. Period full
> > stop.
> > >
> > > -Robert
> > > [log in to unmask]
> > >
> > > ________________________________________
> > > From: Discussion of opera and related issues <[log in to unmask]>
> > on behalf of Maria Wolansky <[log in to unmask]>
> > > Sent: Saturday, March 3, 2018 6:47:17 PM
> > > To: [log in to unmask]
> > > Subject: Re: Butterfly Broadcast from the Met on WQXR
> > >
> > > We were “in house” today for the Butterfly performance. The male singers
> > were mediocre, however Ermonela Jaho was fabulous. It’s the soprano that
> > makes this opera. Together with the stunning Minghella production, Jaho
> > made this performance exhilarating.  Definitely the best Butterfly we ever
> > saw.
> > >
> > > All the best,
> > >
> > > Maria and Leo
> > >
> > >
> > > Sent from my iPhone
> > >
> > >> On Mar 3, 2018, at 6:04 PM, Myriam Hernandez <[log in to unmask]>
> > wrote:
> > >>
> > >> Thank you, Mr. Rideout. You're one of the few persons on this list who
> > so
> > >> far has given credit to Ms. Jaho for her magnificent performance of
> > >> Butterfly today. From an opera that belongs entirely to the soprano,
> > there
> > >> have only been comments posted referring to the male characters and
> > their
> > >> horrible singing, which in fact, was an affront to the ear. As you say,
> > Ms.
> > >> Jaho may not have the opulence of Tebaldi or Price, but she compensated
> > in
> > >> spades with her lovely voice and emotional interpretation. By the way, I
> > >> found her voice sometimes very similar to that of the great Pilar
> > Lorengar.
> > >>
> > >> Myriam
> > >>
> > >>> On Sat, Mar 3, 2018 at 4:33 PM, Bob Rideout <[log in to unmask]>
> > wrote:
> > >>>
> > >>> Leaving everything else aside, since I have nothing good
> > >>> to say about the rest, Ermonela Jaho was really very fine
> > >>> as Cio Cio San. She has a wonderful top register and the
> > >>> rest of the voice is much better than just ok.
> > >>>
> > >>> No, she isn't Scotto, nor does she have the tonal opulence of
> > >>> Leontyne Price or Tebaldi, but she was well worh the time I
> > >>> spent listening to her. Madama Butterfly is one of the very few
> > >>> operas that can be rewarding with nothing more than a fine
> > >>> reading of the title role, and that is exactly what we got. She
> > >>> sang in tune, mostly, in time, mostly, and she understood the
> > >>> words and that dynamics are important.
> > >>>
> > >>> I was rather impressed!
> > >>>
> > >>> Bob
> > >>>
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