[Met Performance] CID:173390
Madama Butterfly {344} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/8/1956.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 8, 1956


MADAMA BUTTERFLY {344}
Puccini-Illica/Giacosa

Cio-Cio-San.............Licia Albanese
Pinkerton...............Daniele Barioni
Suzuki..................Rosalind Elias
Sharpless...............Clifford Harvuot
Goro....................Alessio De Paolis
Bonze...................Osie Hawkins
Yamadori................George Cehanovsky
Dolore..................Unknown
Kate Pinkerton..........Madelaine Chambers
Commissioner............Calvin Marsh

Conductor...............Dimitri Mitropoulos

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

Madama Butterfly received twelve performances this season.

Review of R.A. E. in Musical America

There were many distinguishing factors about the first performance of "Madama Butterfly" at the Metropolitan since the 1954-55 season. Licia Albanese, making her initial appearance this winter at the opera house, was singing the title role for the 200th time in her career and she was charmingly gowned in a new set of rich-looking costumes. Four singers were heard here for the first time in their roles - Rosalind Elias, as Suzuki; Madelaine Chambers, as Kate Pinkerton; Daniele Barioni, as Pinkerton; and Clifford Harvuot, as Sharpless - and Dimitri Mitropoulos conducted it for the first time at the opera house.

Miss Albanese's portrayal of CioCio-San has long been a distinguished one, and her familiarity with the part was again obvious from the wealth of detail with which she invested it - detail that accents the tragic story of the radiant child bride who eventually commits suicide. Countless bits of expressive business, her accurate timing (as in her recognition of Sharpless in the second act) added up to a characterization that, even in moments of some theatricality, seemed wholly convincing. These days, Miss Albanese's voice has less volume than it once did, but it is handled shrewdly in dynamic terms and one is aware always of a sense of power in the climaxes.

Mr. Barioni's youthful, ringing voice soared beautifully in Pinkerton's music, and he looked well. More often than not, he sang to the conductor with immobility in facial and bodily expression that should be rectified. There are some excellent Suzuki's at the Metropolitan, and Miss Elias takes her place with the best of them. She suggested the character's loyal affection and pity for her mistress without forgetting her place as a servant. Her movement was exceptionally graceful and
her singing lovely. Mr. Harvuot created a tired, harassed consul who still had time to sympathize with Butterfly's plight, and he too sang well.

Alessio De Paolis was again the all-seeing, somewhat oily Goro; George
Cehanovsky, the Yamadori; Osie Hawkins, the Bonze; and Calvin Marsh, the Imperial Commissary, in a thoroughly attractive cast.

Mr. Mitropoulos' interpretation of the score was one of his best at the opera house, at once restrained, resilient, and full-textured. The whole action, including Desire Defrère's sensible handling of the chorus in Act I, was good enough to make one regret the faded and worn settings. Let us hope "Butterfly" is high on the list of operas to be refurbished with new designs.



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