[Met Performance] CID:266070
Madama Butterfly {606} Metropolitan Opera House: 09/28/1981.

(Debut: Reed Reppa
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
September 28, 1981


MADAMA BUTTERFLY {606}
Puccini-Illica/Giacosa

Cio-Cio-San.............Gilda Cruz-Romo
Pinkerton...............Vasile Moldoveanu
Suzuki..................Ariel Bybee
Sharpless...............Arthur Thompson
Goro....................Charles Anthony
Bonze...................Morley Meredith
Yamadori................Robert Goodloe
Dolore..................Reed Reppa [Debut]
Kate Pinkerton..........Therese Brandson
Commissioner............Norman Andersson
Registrar...............Arthur Apy

Conductor...............Thomas Fulton

Production..............Yoshio Aoyama
Stage Director..........Fabrizio Melano
Designer................Motohiro Nagasaka
Set Designer............Charles Elson
Costume Designer........Ming Cho Lee
Lighting designer.......Gil Wechsler

Madama Butterfly received nineteen performances this season.

Review of Lou Cevetillo in the Westchester Gannett Newspapers

Ailing Butterfly struggles though Met production

Giacomo Puccini had a special affinity for his opera, "Madama Butterfly." During its composition he suffered a near-fatal automobile accident. In his delirium it is said he kept mumbling, "Poor Butterfly! My Poor Butterfly!" If Puccini had heard the performance of his "Butterfly" Monday night at the Metropolitan Opera, he would again be mumbling to himself.

In the title role Gilda Cruz-Romo completed two acts before an announcement was made that she was suffering from a cold but would continue. In this vocal state, she had no bottom notes, a rather heavy, raspy middle voice and a shrill high voice. She was clearly ill. Dramatically, she lacked the gentle qualities of Cio-Cio-San that make the character the true, tragic oriental figure. Miss Cruz-Romo's interpretation smacked more of Lorca's Andalucia than Puccini's Nagasaki. At one point she physically threatened Goro for bringing the Yamadori to her home as a prospective husband. Miss Cruz-Romo hit Charles Anthony, playing Goro, with such force that he hit the stage in a cloud of dust. Miss Cruz-Romo was not the gentle Butterfly Puccini had in mind.

Her Lt. B.F. Pinkerton was Vasile Moldoveanu, who also had problems Monday evening. Moldoveanu sang in a constricted manner, hampering a clean, ringing sound on the top. As he climbed the register, from G to A flat to A to B flat, Moldoveanu's sound seemed to fall back in the throat cutting back on its projection and beauty of sound. As for acting, Moldoveanu did little more than dodge about the stage in aimless activity. He obviously had little idea of the story and confined his scenes with Butterfly to awkward hugs and kisses that seemed a bit comical.

Arthur Thompson was not the right choice for the baritone role of Sharpless. His Italian was very bad, he lacked dramatic flair and had no focus for his actions on stage. Thompson is a comprimario singer and should remain in those roles, where his inadequacies are not so exposed.

Conductor Thomas Fulton tried valiantly but failed to sustain some semblance of cohesion in this performance. The orchestra sounded the worst it has this season under Fulton's baton. "Butterfly" is a very difficult score to conduct and it is obviously far beyond Fulton's interpretive and technical expertise at this time. The Met, as America's primary opera house, should not be a learning ground for young conductors. The patrons deserve the best: fully accomplished conductors who understand the style and have the experience to offer a masterful performance of such a classic. Fulton may have talent as a conductor, but he has much to learn before he mounts the podium in a house of the Met's calibre.

This rather old and worn production from the '50s as designed by Motohiro Nagasaka was restaged by Fabrizio Melano with little if any success. Melano lost the sensitivity of the score and libretto. His characters moved about aimlessly. The Act I scene between Pinkerton and Butterfly lacked the tenderness that makes this music come alive. Melano did little to improve this production which has gone through a paint facelift, but little else.

There have been some great "Butterfly" performances heard at the Met in the 423 performances throughout its history. But this cast and conductor have little to offer in the way of memorable moments.



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