[Met Performance] CID:144700
Madama Butterfly {281} Civic Opera House, Chicago, Illinois: 04/22/1947.


Chicago, Illinois
April 22, 1947


Cio-Cio-San.............Dorothy Kirsten
Pinkerton...............Charles Kullman
Suzuki..................Lucielle Browning
Sharpless...............Frank Valentino
Goro....................Alessio De Paolis
Bonze...................Osie Hawkins
Yamadori................George Cehanovsky
Kate Pinkerton..........Maxine Stellman
Commissioner............John Baker

Conductor...............Pietro Cimara

Review of Claudia Cassidy in the Chicago Tribune

Metropolitan Presents Kirsten and Kullman in a Second Rate "Butterfly"

The Metropolitan opera has a glorious past and I hope it has brilliant future starting as early as tonight's "Lucia" with Patrice Munsel and Ferruccio Tagliavini. But in the meantime I am unable to smite a lyrical lyre in praise of last night's "Madama Butterfly" sung in the Civic Opera house with Dorothy Kirsten and Charles Kullman in the leading roles. You could smite me as a lyrical liar, if I called this a routine exhibition of operatic bad habits anything more imposing than an attempt to fool the operatic newcomer with the Metropolitan label. As for operatic old-timers, perhaps there should be a checkroom for memories.

If that were the case, Edward Johnson might call for check number one, for as a general director of the Metropolitan he can have no illusions about his 1947 "Butterfly" as opposed say, to the "Butterfly" he used to sing in Chicago Opera days with Edith Mason, Irene Pavloska, and Giacomo Rimini, with Giorgio Polacco conducting, or with Galli-Curci, Pavloska and Georges Baklanoff, Polacco again in the pit. True, they aren't singing any more, and neither is Geraldine Farrar, and Licia Albanese is indisposed, but even so Gallo used to do a better "Butterfly" with Hizi Koyke.

For that matter, Miss Kirsten did a better job last fall in her first "Butterfly" with the Chicago Opera. It was by no means a great performance in voice of characterization, but once it got past a simpering start it achieved a well planned second act of toughing, sometimes poignant, sincerity. Last night she sang well when the music fell into the best of a light lyric soprano inclined to be edgy when forced, but the first act had not improved and the second missed point after point of music drama, skimmed a shallow emotional surface, and was inclined to be shrewish in the scene with Yamadori.

Mr. Kullman is an amiable singer with an easy way of making himself at home on the stage, but by what terms of vocal legerdemain is he supposed to have the rich, soaring tenor to do the love duet justice? And if Francesco Valentino's bland Sharpless was negligent about the proceedings as his performance suggested, at least his boredom was infectious.

Alessio de Paolis was giving a routine copy of his usually shrewdly capable Goro. Lucielle Browning had neither the voice nor the sympathetic presence for Suzuki, and George Cehanovsky's workmanlike Yamadori looked a little sad, as indeed I felt. Pietro Cimara's conducting was competent, tho not exciting in the way Puccini can be and the staging seemed to stem from a bad memory. As for the settings, heaven defend the Metropolitan broadcasts from television.

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