[Met Performance] CID:42190
Madama Butterfly {20} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/30/1908.


Metropolitan Opera House
November 30, 1908


Cio-Cio-San.............Geraldine Farrar
Pinkerton...............Riccardo Martin
Suzuki..................Rita Fornia
Sharpless...............Antonio Scotti
Goro....................Angelo Badà
Bonze...................Adolph Mühlmann
Kate Pinkerton..........Helen Mapleson
Commissioner............Bernard Bégué
Yakuside................Concetto Paterna

Conductor...............Arturo Toscanini

Unsigned review in the Post


There have been rumors that the gentlemen imported from Milan to run the Metropolitan Opera House have been antagonizing our favorite American singer. It did not seem probable that these astute men would by such an act with it bring down on their heels the patriotic indignation of the press as well as the artistic resentment resulting from our consciousness that American singers are not rated the world over as among the best on the stage, and that we have the best on the stage right here. That these rumors did injustice to Messers. Gatti-Casazza and Toscanini was proved last night when Puccini's masterwork, "Madama Butterfly," was produced by them with three American singers: Miss Farrar, as the heroine, Miss Rita Fornia as Suzuki, and Mr. Martin as Pinkerton. The Sharpless was Antonio Scotti, who has the instincts of an American gentleman and acts like one, besides singing like the best of the Italians. The conductor was Mr. Toscanini, who combines American vivacity and energy with all the highest qualities of European musianship. Under his baton the opera had another performance of a truly inspiring character.

The great American tenor, like the great American novel, has long been looked for. It seemed at times last night as if that tenor had materialized. Mr. Martin sang his music with splendid vibrant tone, delightfully pure intonation and thoroughly artistic phrasing. His acting too, of an unsympathetic part was praiseworthy. He is a singer of the type of Campanini, that is a singer who is at the same time a trained musician. He is destined to prove that America can produce a first-class tenor as well as world-famed prima donnas.

Miss Farrar quite surpassed herself both as a singer and an actress. Fully recovered from her illness, her voice shone in all its exquisite loveliness. Like its owner, that voice is an American beauty; it is a voice animated by the same sort of subtle expressiveness which has made American faces famous the world over as types of the highest feminine charm ever known. Her art was specially sunny and full of changing charms in the first act, which make the contrast of the deeper emotions of joy and sorrow in the other two more poignant. The episode of the sleeve pockets was particularly child-like and delicious. If Japanese girls are ever quite like that they are more fascinating even than Americans. Such tenderness, such sweet trustfulness, such sincere love - how could it fail to give a heart even to Pinkerton? Yet how like a tigress was this same girl when she seized her dagger to expel the insulting Goro, and how tragic her suicide, how pathetic her curling up to the flag-waving child to touch it once more before expiring.

Enchanting and thrilling as were these scenes, the climax of the evening's art was in the monologue, "Senti, un bel di," in which the poor little geisha pictures to herself the return of her American husband - the gilding of the white vessel into the harbor, the coming of the navy officer up the street, his calling "Butterfly" from afar, his caressing of the "orange blossom."
Nothing equal to this in vocal and facial charm - every tone quivering with dramatic sensibility - has perhaps ever been witnessed on the operatic stage in the face of art so realistic, so emotional, all the conventionalities of opera are forgotten.

The audience did not fail to respond to these appeals in its finest sensibilities by summons before the curtain and cordial applause. Except in the standing room the audience was as large as when Mr. Caruso is the Pinkerton, and thus Miss Farrar has twice within a week shown that she can draw a Caruso house even without Caruso.

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