[Met Performance] CID:114290
Madama Butterfly {226} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/15/1934.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 15, 1934


MADAMA BUTTERFLY {226}
Puccini-Illica/Giacosa

Cio-Cio-San.............Elisabeth Rethberg
Pinkerton...............Giovanni Martinelli
Suzuki..................Ina Bourskaya
Sharpless...............Richard Bonelli
Goro....................Giordano Paltrinieri
Bonze...................Paolo Ananian
Yamadori................Pompilio Malatesta
Kate Pinkerton..........Phradie Wells
Commissioner............Millo Picco
Yakuside................Paolo Quintina

Conductor...............Vincenzo Bellezza

Director................Armando Agnini
Set designer............Joseph Urban

Madama Butterfly received five performances this season.

Review signed H. H. in The New York Times

RETHBERG RETURNS AS MME. BUTTERFLY

Gives Moving Interpretation of Role in Season's First Offering of That Opera.

BONELLI SINGS SHARPLESS


Martinelli Is Pinkerton and Mme. Bourskaya Is Suzuki in Popular Puccini Work


When "Butterfly" is sung as well as Mme. Rethberg sang it last night, the listener undergoes that species of hypnosis which is one of the basic functions of art. He not only listens; he participates with his mind and feelings. One felt that anyone who could fail to be moved by certain places in Puccini's score, as projected yesterday evening, must be suffering from emotional hardening of the arteries.

Mme. Rethberg brought the title role not only beautiful singing as to tone quality and phrasing throughout almost the entire performance, but she endowed it with dramatic sincerity and conviction of a high order. Both these attributes increased rather than diminished as the opera proceeded. The treatment of the first act had flaws; although the piano and pianissimo work was exquisite, some of the fortes sounded a little forced and occasionally were off pitch. But the second act was carried admirably; the letter scene, the duet with Suzuki; numerous little details in the easy, spontaneous playing of the scenes with Sharpless, the final dramatic climax that precedes the wistful music of the curtain - all this had the stamp of dramatic authenticity and a fire and delicacy of vocal projection that deserved the acclamations that greeted Mme. Rethberg at the close of the act.

Mr. Bonelli's playing of Sharpless was blessed with the same histrionic conviction and simplicity, and his warm, mellow singing made the most of the role. It would be a pleasure to cast a similar laurel crown upon the brow of Mr. Martinelli's Pinkerton. But unfortunately most of his singing was singularly bad; forced and tight in the high bravura passages and reduced to an ineffective half-voice elsewhere. There were exceptions, when the fine freshness of his recent "L'Africana" was recalled. But unhappily they were rare. And since when have lieutenants of the United States Navy appeared in the flowing locks of a Paderewski or a Richard Le Gallienne?

Mme. Boursaya's rich dark voice contributed much to the performance, and the perfection of her style in acting - details like the Japanese gesture of the hands with which she released the flower petals (Mme. Rethberg scattered hers like a European) bespoke the careful and finished artist. Other roles were commendably taken and the orchestra, under Mr. Bellezza's direction, was for the most part eloquent and sensitive. The big audience, with its thick periphery of standees, applauded loudly. This was the Metropolitan's first "Butterfly" of the season and Mme. Rethberg's initial appearance this year.



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