Puccini: Madama Butterfly / Gheorghiu, Kaufmann

Album cover art for upc 5099926418728
Label: EMISP
Catalog: 5099926418728
Format: CD

A great Madama Butterfly at 80% off!!!
Angela Gheorghiu, Jonas Kaufmann, Enkelejda Shkosa, Fabio Capitanucci, Gregory Bonfatti, Raymond Aceto / Orchestra e Coro dell’Accadmia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Chorus Master Norbert Balatasch, Antonio Pappano

Puccini: Madama Butterfly

Gramophone Award Winner - Opera 2009
Wholenote Discoveries - June 2009
In the DVD era it comes as quite a surprise that EMI is investing in a brand new CD set of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Especially Butterfly, an opera recorded umpteen times and favoured by some of the greatest conductors, most notably Karajan who probed the depths and unearthed so much beauty in this score much to the chagrin of its detractors who ridiculed it as shallow and sentimental. Favoured also by the great sopranos, Callas, Tebaldi, the unforgettable Scotto, Freni etc. who made the principal role their own over the years. Yet it is still important to hear new artists tackling the score and this handsomely presented new set with demonstration sound does just that. From the first bar onwards we are instantly aware of the excitement and electricity of Antonio Pappano’s brilliant, empathetic conducting, turning the orchestra into a major dramatic role in an almost Wagnerian fashion. His feeling for detail is uncanny. Feel how he creates an almost unbearable and horrifying near silence just before final tragedy. Jonas Kaufmann as Pinkerton is a strong ‘heldentenor’, singing out the notes, but I am missing the Italianate charm that I am sure Puccini intended. In the supporting roles, Fabio Capitanucci (Sharpless) and Enkelejda Shkosa (Suzuki) are not comparable to such past greats as Christa Ludwig and Giuseppe de Luca. However, the second major factor that makes this recording so extraordinary is famed Puccini heroine Angela Gheorghiu in the title role. It requires a singer-actress of the highest caliber to portray the development of a 15 year old geisha into a lover, a proud mother and later a tragic heroine. She accomplishes this daunting task beautifully with a memorable performance. Janos Gardonyi
Madama Butterfly appears on EMI Classics for the first time in many years in a new studio recording. The role of Cio-Cio-San is stunningly performed by Angela Gheorghiu, partnered by the exciting young German tenor Jonas Kaufmann as her lover Pinkerton, both making their debuts in these roles. Suzuki is sung by Enkelejda Shkosa, Sharpless by Fabio Capitanucci and Goro by Gregory Bonfatti. Antonio Pappano conducts the Orchestra e Coro dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in the two-act opera. The recording took place in the Santa Cecilia Hall of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome in July 2008, the year commemorating the 150th anniversary of Puccini’s birth. Given the lapse of 42 years since the appearance of the last seminal recording of Madama Butterfly with Renata Scotto/Carlo Bergonzi – and even earlier releases with Maria Callas/Nicolai Gedda and Victoria de los Angeles with both Giuseppe di Stefano and Jussi Bjorling – all recorded by EMI Classics-- this new production has attracted keen anticipation among press and music lovers worldwide. In an era when record companies have virtually ceased to make studio recordings of operas - one of the last being EMI’s Tristan und Isolde with Plácido Domingo and Nina Stemme, and in the words of Producer David Groves, speaking shortly after the recording sessions, "When it is so exceptional to make a studio opera recording, to find the perfect circumstances in which to record Madama Butterfly is both rare and precious. It was the right place at the right time with the perfect cast, conductor, orchestra and venue. The orchestra of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia played the music as though it was written for them and the partnership between the soloists Angela Gheorghiu and Jonas Kaufmann and conductor Antonio Pappano was a magical combination".