[Met Performance] CID:141640
Madama Butterfly {266} Cleveland Public Auditorium, Cleveland, Ohio: 04/25/1946.


Cleveland, Ohio
April 25, 1946


Cio-Cio-San.............Licia Albanese
Pinkerton...............James Melton
Suzuki..................Lucielle Browning
Sharpless...............John Brownlee
Goro....................Alessio De Paolis
Bonze...................Osie Hawkins
Yamadori................George Cehanovsky
Kate Pinkerton..........Maxine Stellman
Commissioner............John Baker

Conductor...............Cesare Sodero

Review of Milton Widder in the Cleveland Press

'Madama Butterfly' Gets Welcome Back to Opera

There were many throbbing hearts and watering eyes in Public Hall last night as the beautifully moving story of Cio-Cio-San unfolded to the sensuously dramatic music Puccini. "Madama Butterfly" remains one of the great love stories in opera and, in the sphere of realistic and descriptive music, the score of Puccini is one of the masterpieces of the present day.

In bringing this work back into the repertory, the Metropolitan Opera Company has done a great service in the cause of music. This drama of love and frustration stands as a monumental refutation to those critics who blithely condemn opera as archaic or past its prime. When one listens to such a performance as 8600 persons heard last night, no amount of sniping and carping from the camp of "modern music" can possibly hurt opera as it is offered today, artistically as well as a box-office attraction.

To me Licia Albanese is one of the greatest Italian sopranos of the day. She has a voice that is rich in color, true and magnificently expressive. Her portrayal of the unfortunate and jilted Japanese beauty last night left absolutely nothing to be desired. She has done many roles here - Violetta, Micaela, Mimi - and in each she has displayed an intensity and power that will be recalled by us oldsters in the days to come as the "golden age of opera." Now, her Cio-Cio-San has been added to those unforgettable memories.

James Melton, a favorite tenor with many (especially radio listeners) made a dashing "Lieut. Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton of the U. S Navy." He has the looks, the build and the voice for the role. But he fails to unbend on the operatic stage so that his interpretation of the lover lacked warmth. Over the airwaves and in concert James Melton is one of the most charming and gayest of entertainers. I wish he would carry that personality into opera.

Baritone John Brownlee, in the sympathetic roles of "Sharpless, U. S. consul at Nagasaki," carried the male honors for his honest acting and smooth singing of the role, Lucielle Browning's "Suzuki" warmed up after the first act and she was more than competent. In lesser soles Alessio De Paolis, Osie Hawkins and John Baker helped the production a great deal.

"Trouble"-son of this American-Japanese love union - was handled by Nancy Hammond, five- year-old-daughter of Lillian Nicholls, member of the chorus. Her poise was one of the hits of the performance. Cesare Sodero's handling of the orchestra and production was in his usual well-routined manner.

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