The Guardian, 13 March 2009
Tim Ashley
Puccini: Madama Butterfly
"A Butterfly for the 21st century" is how this set describes itself, without telling us why. Raising more questions than it answers, it forces us to confront the equation between US imperialism and sex tourism that forms the opera's subtext. This is due in no small measure to an epoch-making performance from Jonas Kaufmann as Pinkerton - psychologically the most complete on disc, and a totally credible portrait of a cynic who views the far east as both alien and appropriable, yet who is also capable of turning on a devastating seductive charm at will. We understand entirely why Angela Gheorghiu's Butterfly lets him destroy her world. She sounds gorgeous, but has a tendency to overdo the archness in order to emphasise Butterfly's extreme youth, and doesn't always let rip in some of the climactic scenes nearly as much as she could. Antonio Pappano stresses the tense, irresolute quality of the score by following a dangerously erotic account of the first act with an implacably bleak performance of the second. It won't be to everyone's taste, though Kaufmann is essential listening.

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