[Met Performance] CID:115200
Madama Butterfly {229} American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 03/20/1934.

(Review)


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
March 20, 1934


MADAMA BUTTERFLY {229}

Cio-Cio-San.............Elisabeth Rethberg
Pinkerton...............Paul Althouse
Suzuki..................Ina Bourskaya
Sharpless...............Armando Borgioli
Goro....................Giordano Paltrinieri
Bonze...................Paolo Ananian
Yamadori................Millo Picco
Kate Pinkerton..........Phradie Wells
Commissioner............Millo Picco
Yakuside................Paolo Quintina

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

Review of Linton Martin in the Philadelphia Inquirer

RETHBERG AT OPERA SINGS 'BUTTERFLY'

Metropolitan Gives Next to Last Performance Here at the Academy

The operatic anguish of trusting little Cio-Cio-San, and the base perfidy of Pinkerton, naughty naval office of the U. S. A., held the stage again when Puccini's "Madama Butterfly" was given at the Academy last night as the penultimate performance of the Metropolitan Opera's final Philadelphia season. The title role was taken by Elisabeth Rethberg, who sang the same part when "Butterfly" was last given here by the Metropolitan three years ago, while her chief associates in the cast of this truly "one woman" opera were Paul Althouse as Pinkerton, Armando Borgioli as the consul, Sharpless, and Ina Bourskaya as faithful Suzuki.

Madame Rethberg may not be a "Butterfly" of altogether ideal appearance, especially for Philadelphians who have come to know the ineluctable allure of Hizi Koyke in the part in recent seasons. But there can be no question about the sheer artistry of her singing, and last night she gave full value to the often brimmingly beautiful music of Puccini's most sensuous and seductive score. Vocally, her performance on this occasion was marked by unfailingly lovely tone quality and exquisite phrasing, while there was also genuine sincerity and dramatic conviction in her characterization, aside from her absence of endowment for visual fitness.

Piquancy of appeal is not an outstanding asset of Madame Rethberg in "Butterfly." Consequently she seemed better in the scenes of the second and third act than in the richly romantic conclusion of the first act, and her singing was marked by greater fullness and freedom as the evening progresses. Her stage deportment may not always have been strictly according to Japanese custom, either. But it was a performance which stressed the vocal aspects, and on this score it was admirable.

Paul Althouse, who has sung Pinkerton with the last Civic Opera Company here in times past, was the antithesis naval lieutenant of the "Benjamin Franklin" on this occasion for the first time here with Metropolitan, if memory serves. His voice was prevailingly metallic, although his acting was sincere and effective within the limited opportunities of the rôle. Armando Borgioli sang agreeably the music of the sympathetic Sharpless and his acting was effective in a rôle which is largely that of a friendly listener. The dark, contralto voice and rather formal acting of Ina Bourskaya again were disclosed in the rôle of Suzuki, which she has taken here on various former occasions. Others were Phradie Wells as Kate Pinkerton, Giordano Paltrinieri as Goro, Paolo Ananian as the fearsome Bonze and Millo Picco as both Yamadori and the Imperial Commissary. Vincenzo Bellezza conducted most energetically throughout the evening.



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