[Met Performance] CID:149240
Madama Butterfly {291} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/22/1948.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 22, 1948


MADAMA BUTTERFLY {291}
Puccini-Illica/Giacosa

Cio-Cio-San.............Dorothy Kirsten
Pinkerton...............Charles Kullman
Suzuki..................Lucielle Browning
Sharpless...............John Brownlee
Goro....................Alessio De Paolis
Bonze...................Melchiorre Luise
Yamadori................George Cehanovsky
Kate Pinkerton..........Maxine Stellman
Commissioner............John Baker

Conductor...............Giuseppe Antonicelli

Director................Désiré Defrère
Set designer............Joseph Urban

Madama Butterfly received eight performances this season.

[Kirsten's costumes were designed by David Laurence Roth.]

Review of Irving Kolodin in The Sun

Kirsten Sings Admirably in Season's First "Butterfly"

Studying our era from the vantage point of 2048, a social historian might conclude that the coincidence, hundred years before, of "Madama Butterfly" at the Metropolitan Opera, and the execution that day of the wartime premier Tajo in Japan, was somehow related - a sadistic display of Occidental gloating. Let me record for any future note, that it was, rather, merely accidental - in keeping with much of the performance itself.

Butterfly has been, and remains, the best thing done by Dorothy Kirsten in her three Metropolitan seasons - wherefore it is as fair to cite the state of her art at this advantage as it is to report on it at the current disadvantage of her Louise or Fiora. Among American artists of her generation, it ranks as one of the healthiest pieces of vocalism now to be heard - strong in outline, clean in execution, rarely compromised by extraneous bids for easy applause. The singing flows more than before, the sound is easier, more vibrant; if it has a fault, it is in the strain for some high tones, which may eventually affect the basic production. What she does as an actress is neither fluid nor convincing, but her sincerity and earnestness are no small virtues. Let her continue to sing as honestly as she did in "Un bel di" last night, and the rest will follow.

[Her partners] in "Butterfly" in her first season were present again - Charles Kullman (Pinkerton) and John Brownlee (Sharpless). Each had a secure place in the drama, though neither is, any longer, the kind of vocalist Puccini demanded. Kuliman's gentility and Brownlee's charm were more evident in gesture than sound, though the latter's voice does sound better now than it has for the last year or two. The records prove that Giuseppe Antonicelli conducted for much this same cast last season, but the run of the show was uncertain, sometimes even haphazard. Certainly if Miss Kirsten is going to sing a rhythmic, uneccentric "Un bel di," the conductor should know about it, rather than lagging behind in the conventional indulgences for the "temperament." One noted some sure vocalization from Lucille Browning as Suzuki, the artful work of Alessio de Paolis as Goro and a capable Yamadori by the always capable George Cehanovsky. The audience was Puccini-sized, rather mild in temper.



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