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Exactly by a particularly ghastly young man.
Who in my opinion should sing like an angel to which any person, regardless of their orientation, would fall for him even in a blind wedding. And lose their minds too. And lose the reason to live.

Bergonzi is the man. I wish Pavarotti made it for me the way he did Rodolfo. Gedda didn't have the voice in that age, because he would sound the part if he sung Pinkerton the way he sung his second Don José (the one with Pretre with Callas in Paris, not the one with Karajan and Simionato in Vienna).
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
It's funny how two people can differ in their responses to the same recording. I used to have this performance on cassette (remember those?) but when I got rid of all my cassettes I decided to buy the earlier of the two VDLA performances instead. I thought Santini not just dull but utterly perfunctory in places. I also thought Bjoerling, a singer whom I usually like and whose Rodolfo I really enoy, sounded unaccountably stiff and uninvolved, quite the reverse of how you felt. De Los Angeles is superb in both recordings and with the added attraction of Gobbi's peerless Sharpless and Di Stefano's charming Pinkerton, the first recording wins the day for me.
I too had the stereo VDLA Butterfly on cassette! The Callas set was the first one I had on CD and very soon after I decided to get a VDLA set as well, but since I adore Gobbi I thought the earlier might be better. I listened to both back to back and found De los Angeles more involved in the second than in the first one and so that was my choice. I then got the first VDLA set recently whilst on a bit of a Gobbi kick (and I'm glad I did). However, it was only recently that I listened to them to compare again and I would have expected to prefer Di Stefano, but Bjorling caught the character for me better. I believe it was his last recording and he was ill, which might explain why he doesn't sound at his best. (I'm not that familiar with his recordings as I'm not a huge fan of his.) Therefore our difference of opinion is probably due to how we perceive Bjorling in general. (I find this very interesting.)

One of the Butterflies that mystifies me is the Scotto with Barbirolli. It's ok, but I don't understand why it's considered such a great recording. Whilst I know what you mean about the Karajan with Freni and Pavarotti I think it does, at least, have more drama than his Cav and Pag (and I think the singers suit their roles better).

N.
 

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Exactly by a particularly ghastly young man.
Not that unusual though. Young men like him are ten a penny on college campuses - young college jocks born into privilege, who think they can do whatever they like and never consider the consequences. They probably all end up as Republican politicians! :devil:
 
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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
Who in my opinion should sing like an angel to which any person, regardless of their orientation, would fall for him even in a blind wedding. And lose their minds too. And lose the reason to live.

Bergonzi is the man. I wish Pavarotti made it for me the way he did Rodolfo. Gedda didn't have the voice in that age, because he would sound the part if he sung Pinkerton the way he sung his second Don José (the one with Pretre with Callas in Paris, not the one with Karajan and Simionato in Vienna).
I totally agree about Gedda (and the Carmen with Callas is one of his greatest recordings). However, I couldn't disagree more about Bergonzi. I would only marry him if it were a deaf wedding!

I think there needs to be something 'heroic' in Pinkerton's voice, such that he is attractive and appealing in the way you describe. Only Pavarotti and Bjorling have that quality for me. (I would have thought Di Stefano could have found that in the character as he was an excelent Duke of Mantua, but his performance disappointed me somewhat.) If Gedda sang the role too early, Bergonzi left it too late. His early Pagliacci and Due Foscari for Cetra reveal that he would have been a superb Pinkerton with all the swagger and bravado needed in the early fifties.

N.
 

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One of the Butterflies that mystifies me is the Scotto with Barbirolli. It's ok, but I don't understand why it's considered such a great recording. Whilst I know what you mean about the Karajan with Freni and Pavarotti I think it does, at least, have more drama than his Cav and Pag (and I think the singers suit their roles better).

N.
I think the Barbirolli is perhaps a slightly more conventional performance of the opera than Karajan I, which seems to me to be quite different for all the others, but I've always enjoyed it and I do like Scotto in general. I agree with you about the second Karajan recording and I do really like Freni and Pavarotti in their respective roles. But I prefer the Barbirolli, so it gets nudged into fourth place for me.
 

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I totally agree about Gedda (and the Carmen with Callas is one of his greatest recordings). However, I couldn't disagree more about Bergonzi. I would only marry him if it were a deaf wedding!

I think there needs to be something 'heroic' in Pinkerton's voice, such that he is attractive and appealing in the way you describe. Only Pavarotti and Bjorling have that quality for me. (I would have thought Di Stefano could have found that in the character as he was an excelent Duke of Mantua, but his performance disappointed me somewhat.) If Gedda sang the role too early, Bergonzi left it too late. His early Pagliacci and Due Foscari for Cetra reveal that he would have been a superb Pinkerton with all the swagger and bravado needed in the early fifties.

N.
Oh well, it seems to be only me (and John Steane) who likes Gedda's Pinkerton.

Mention of [Alec Robertson] reminds me that he was not entirely happy about Gedda as Pinkerton: ''It is perfectly clear from the moment he opens his mouth that Mr Gedda would not hurt a flea, let alone a Butterfly... This considerably alters the dramatic balance of the opera''. But I think that this is part of a common misconception which sees Pinkerton as a brash, brutish character, whereas he is what his music is: namely, in Act 1, charming, graceful, tender and fervent (that such a person can behave as he does is at the centre of the opera's tragic force). Gedda characterizes him faithfully, and sings with a sweetness that entirely explains why such a strong-minded girl as this should so trust him.
John Steane reviewing the Callas recording on its first CD release.
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
Oh well, it seems to be only me (and John Steane) who likes Gedda's Pinkerton.

John Steane reviewing the Callas recording on its first CD release.
My problem with Gedda is not so much that he doesn't sound right for the part, but rather his tone is so thin and light he doesn't sound right for the opera (or Puccini in general) at all. This is puzzling as his Don Jose with Callas is just the sort of singing that would have worked. It's a shame that Di Stefano and Gobbi had already recorded the opera with VDLA as they would have been much better foils for Callas' art and a worthy frame for it.

N.
 

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Does anybody think about Suzuki???!!!



So underscasted so often. I understand second-rate tenors in live met performances, it's just an act. But c'mon, Suzuki is along her for part of Act I and the whole Act II.
 

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I counted mine: 14 and all purposely obtained... I need to get a grip on my gluttony because it is not just Butterfly! I need counseling. ;)
Do you own the Maazel/CBS? I bought recently at donation store but have not listen to it yet. I own Karajan/Callas, and Leinsdorf/Price and one other I cannot remember. Any comments of anyone who knows this recording is welcome.
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
Does anybody think about Suzuki???!!!



So underscasted so often. I understand second-rate tenors in live met performances, it's just an act. But c'mon, Suzuki is along her for part of Act I and the whole Act II.
Most Suzukis are rather dull, I find. It's one of those roles that doesn't offer enough for a singer to warrant casting a star mezzo in the part (in any case you would cast a star Pinkerton and Sharpless first). That's one of the interesting things about Butterfly, all the parts are foils for the title role. That's why a stunning Butterfly with lesser co-stars can still be a top pick. One of the reasons the Santini is so strong is the supporting cast is worthy of VDLA's assumption of the main character.

N.
 

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Do you own the Maazel/CBS? I bought recently at donation store but have not listen to it yet. I own Karajan/Callas, and Leinsdorf/Price and one other I cannot remember. Any comments of anyone who knows this recording is welcome.
I do have the Scotto/Maazel/CBS. It is a good recording but it does not compare to others or even the Scotto/Barbirolli. I am not quite convinced with Maazel as a Puccini conductor as I think that he focuses too much on the details and lacks the forward movement the music needs. The second problem I have is the actual recording quality which has in my book too much reverb and thus occludes the music and the singers. Scotto's Butterfly is always special to me, vocal warts and all. It was recorded in 1977 so her vocal state is good still. I would place it after the Scotto/Barbirolli overall because of Barbirolli more affectionate conducting (and he sings too! :)).

I find the Karajan/Callas the best of of the recordings I have of Butterfly. I will not repeat myself opinions by Steane, others and even myself in other threads that touched on this recordings. It is not just Callas at her most perceptive, communicative and tragic but also Karajan at his best. I find his contribution superior to the more famed Decca Butterfly with Freni and Pavarotti which is gorgeous but not as devastating as his EMI outing.

The Leinsdorf/Price is Madama Butterfly gone to Hollywood (no animus to offend anyone) IMO: gorgeous singing, a Technicolor recording (I have its SACD incarnation) but it is not a dramatic experience.

So, to rank the three recordings you list, I would say:

1. Karajan/Callas (topmost and by far),
2. Maazel/Scotto,
3. Leinsdorf/Price.

I hope this makes sense.

Cheers.
 

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Most Suzukis are rather dull, I find. It's one of those roles that doesn't offer enough for a singer to warrant casting a star mezzo in the part (in any case you would cast a star Pinkerton and Sharpless first). That's one of the interesting things about Butterfly, all the parts are foils for the title role. That's why a stunning Butterfly with lesser co-stars can still be a top pick. One of the reasons the Santini is so strong is the supporting cast is worthy of VDLA's assumption of the main character.

N.
I agree that a dull Suzuki does not necessarily break a performance of Butterfly but it can lift it if a good performer is found. The Suzukis I find memorable in recordings are Cossotto [Decca; Serafin, Tebaldi, Bergonzi], and Ludwig [Decca; Karajan, Freni, Pavarotti].
 

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Favourite recording is Leinsdorf but with Anna Moffo & Cesare Valletti.
For once, Butterfly doesn't sound like a pair of frumpy 50 year olds waddling around the stage and singing sweet nothings.
Karajan's recording does have beautiful singing and sound but he conducts like he's wading through molasses.
 

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Favourite recording is Leinsdorf but with Anna Moffo & Cesare Valletti.
For once, Butterfly doesn't sound like a pair of frumpy 50 year olds waddling around the stage and singing sweet nothings.
Karajan's recording does have beautiful singing and sound but he conducts like he's wading through molasses.
Well I hardly think any of my favourites (De Los Angeles and Di Stefano, Callas and Gedda, Scotto and Bergonzi, or Freni and Pavarotti for that matter) sound like "a pair of frumpy 50 year olds waddling around the stage". As it happens Callas was 32 when she recorded it, De Los Angeles and Scotto the same age when they made their first recordings - hardly old for an opera singer. Freni was 39, though she never sang the opera on stage.

Which are the recordings on which the Butterfly and Pinkerton sound like a pair of frumpy 50 year olds?
 

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Which are the recordings on which the Butterfly and Pinkerton sound like a pair of frumpy 50 year olds?
Obviously i have exaggerated a bit, but most just don't sound remotely like like the appropriate ages.
Of course you aint getting someone sounding 15 but most sopranos all sound like they have hit 40. And perhaps there is just no real way around that.
I just happen to like the Moffo/Valetti recording. They sound young and Leinsdorf doesn't conduct like he's had a valium and been somewhat sedated. Most conduct it like wading through molasses as I said before. Karajan being the big culprit.
You go with what floats your boat. Don't worry if others disagree. They don't matter.
Haven't heard Callas' recording but I am not a great fan of her voice in general.
 

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You go with what floats your boat. Don't worry if others disagree. They don't matter.
Thank you. I don't. In around 60 years of listening to opera and classical music, I do know what I like and why. It doesn't bother me in the slightest if others disagree. On the other hand, I've also read a great deal about music and musicians and quite often, not always, common opinion is based on sound judgement. I also know which critics I am more likely to agree with.
 
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