classicalcdreview, April 2009
Puccini: Madama Butterfly
EMI's new Butterfly is outstanding in every way. Angela Gheorghiu was treated as super-star and apparently dominated the recording sessions. She selected her Pinkerton—Jonas Kaufmann instead of her husband, Roberto Alagna who no longer was with EMI—although contractual arrangements seem to occur very often but they didn't here. Actually one can view Gheorgiu and Alagna in the love duet from Butterfly in a video made in 1999, and it is a knock out performance. Gheorghiu is a splendid Butterfly in every way, although her attempt to sound young in the first act is not totally successful. However, she has the power needed for the big moments, and her singing is flawless. She even manages that climactic high note at the end of Butterfly's entrance, the one that has betrayed many sopranos who try it, including Maria Callas and Renata Scotto. Kaufmann is superb as Pinkerton—one wishes he had more to sing—and the entire cast is outstanding. Conductor Pappano works magic with the fine St. Cecilia Orchestra, and the brisk opening of the first act is exciting indeed. This is a feast for opera lovers. Sonic quality is state-of-the-art. A libretto is supplied, and the two CDs are packaged in a rather bulky cardboard box.

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