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PUCCINI: Madama Butterfly (Highlights) (Alexander Rahbari/ Georg Tichy/ Gunter Appenheimer/ Miriam Gauci/ Slovak Philharmonic Chorus/ Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra/ Yordy Ramiro) (Naxos: 8.553152)



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Giacomo Puccini (1858 -1924)



Madama Butterfly (Highlights)


Libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica



Madama Butterfly (Cio-Cio-San) ..................................... MiriamGauci


Suzuki ....................................................................

Nelly Boschkowa


F. B. Pinkerton ..........................................................

Yordy Ramiro


Sharpless .................................................................

Georg Tichy


Goro ...................................................................... JozefAbel


Mother of Cio-Cio-San ................................................ AnnaTomkovicova


Aunt of Cio-Cio-San ...................................................

Maria Stahelova


Cousin of Cio-Cio-San ................................................. ElenaHanzelova



Slovak Philharmonic Chorus


Jan Rozehnal, Chorus-Master


Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra (Bratislava)


Alexander Rahbari



Giacomo Puccini was born in Lucca in 1858 into a family with long-establishedmusical traditions extending back at least to the early eighteenth century. Itwas natural that he should follow this tradition and become a musician, andafter the death of his father, when the boy was five, it was arranged that heshould inherit the position of organist at the church of S Martino, whichmeanwhile would be held for him by his uncle. He was trained as a chorister andas an organist, and only turned to more ambitious composition at the age ofseventeen. A performance of Verdi's opera Aida in Pisa in 1876 inspiredoperatic aspirations, which could only be pursued adequately at a major musicalcentre. Four years later he was able to enter the conservatory in Milan,assisted financially by an uncle and by a scholarship. There his teachers wereAntonio Bazzini, director of the conservatory from 1882 and now chieflyremembered by other violinists for one attractive addition to their repertoire,and Amilcare Ponchielli, then near the end of his career.



Puccini's first opera was Le villi, an operatic treatment of a subjectbetter known nowadays from the ballet Giselle by Adam. It failed to winthe competition for which it had been entered, but won, instead, a staging,through the agency of Boito, and publication by Ricordi, who commissioned theopera Edgar, produced at La Scala in 1889 to relatively little effect. Itwas in 1893 that Puccini won his first great success with his version of theAbbe Prevost's Manon Lescaut, a work that established him as a possiblesuccessor to Verdi. La bohème followed in 1896.





Tosca was first staged in Rome in 1900, and was followed four years laterby Madama Butterfly. A sensational court case, after the suicide of aservant-girl falsely accused by Puccini's wife of a close relationship with herhusband, was partly instrumental in delaying further composition, until thecompletion of La fanciulla del West, a work set in the Wild West andfirst performed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1910. La rondine wasstaged at Monte Carlo in 1917 and the triple-bill Il trittico in New Yorkthe following year. Puccini's last opera, which he was unable to complete beforehis death in 1924, was Turandot, set in China, but based on a play by the18th century Venetian dramatist Gozzi.



The remoter origin of Madama Butterfly was a short story by theAmerican writer John Luther Long, who himself had a certain debt to the Frenchwriter Pierre Loti, a more significant literary figure. Loti's MadameChrysanth?¿me takes a very cynical view of the temporary marriage of aforeigner and a Japanese girl, and this novel provided the substance of an operaby Andre Messager in 1893. Long's magazine story was dramatized by DavidBelasco, and Puccini saw the play during the course of a visit to London in1900. At the time he was in search of a new subject for opera, considering inturn Daudet's Tartarin de Tarascon, a Zola novel and the fate of theFrench Queen Marie Antoinette. By March 1901 matters had advanced far enough forPuccini to send his librettist Illica a translation of Long's story, whileassuring him that changes made by Belasco for the play were distinctimprovements. Illica started work on the basis of the story, which has distinctdifferences from the play and, in the end, from the opera. Puccini's publisher,Giulio Ricordi, and Illica were finally convinced of the viability of thesubject only when they had read an Italian translation of Belasco's play, whichthey first saw in June that year. The first part of the libretto reached thecomposer in October and the completed version the following summer. As inearlier libretti, Illica collaborated with the well known dramatist GiuseppeGiacosa, the latter responsible for versification of the scenario provided.



Puccini's work on Madama Butterfly, hampered at first by delays in thecompletion of the libretto, was further interrupted when the composer, anenthusiastic motoring pioneer, was injured in an accident. It was with somedifficulty that he was able to complete the orchestration of the opera in timefor rehearsals for the premi?¿re at La Scala. In the event 17th February 1904brought an operatic disaster, with hostile members of the first-night audienceclaiming to find immediate repetitions of La boh?¿me, and increasingdisapproval shown as the work continued. The evocation of the Japanesecountryside by the placing of bird-noises in the auditorium inspired members ofthe audience to add their own farmyard imitations, and the performance continuedamid uproar. It was suspected that the supporters of Mascagni had some hand inthis hostile reception at a time when La Scala remained plagued by contendingoperatic factions.



There were to be various revisions of the work for subsequent performances.

At the composer's request, Madama Butterfly was immediately withdrawnfrom the season at La Scala. Performances in Brescia in May were successful,however, and Puccini himself insisted that future productions should allow himcontrol over casting, a provision that both delayed and ensured the opera'scontinued success in Italy and abroad.





Madama Butterfly deals with the liaison between the American Pinkertonand his Japanese wife, Cio-Cio-San, an arrangement that she sees as permanentbut which he regards as a matter of temporary convenience. Pinkerton desertsCio-Cio-San, who bears him a son, returning finally with his new wife, Kate, towhom Butterfly surrenders the boy, before choosing death for herself. Problemsarose with the character of Pinkerton, whose r??le can hardly be heroic, whileattention and sympathy inevitably must centre on the fifteen-year-old geisha,Cio-Cio-San, a r??le allotted finally to a dramatic soprano. Sympatheticunderstanding of both is embodied in the American consul Sharpless, while, inthe final version of the opera, the part of Kate is considerably reduced. Thetragedy deals, in fact, with a series of misunderstandings. Cio-Cio-San, withher idealised view of America, remains truly Japanese in outlook, whilePinkerton fails completely to understand or value her own simpler view of life.

Sharpless alone can hold a balanced view of events and their predictableculmination.



Synopsis


The period is the present (1904). The scene is outside a small Japanesehouse, set on a hi
Facts
Item number 8553152
Barcode 730099415224
Release date 01/01/2000
Category Opera / Operetta | Classical Music
Label Naxos Classics | Naxos Records
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Performers
Artists Georg Tichy
Miriam Gauci
Yordy Ramiro
Composers Giacomo Puccini
Conductors Alexander Rahbari
Orchestras Slovak Philharmonic Chorus
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
Producers Gunter Appenheimer
Disc: 1
Madama Butterfly
1 Act I - Dovunque al mondo
2 Act I - Ed e bella la sposa?
3 Act I - Amore o grillo
4 Act I - Ecco! Son giunte al sommo del pendio
5 Act I - Bimba, bimba, non piangere
6 Act I - Viene la sers
7 Act I - Bimba dagli occhi pieni di malia
8 Un bel di vedremo (Peter's Friends)
9 Act II - Vedrai, piccolo amor
10 Act II - Tutto, tutto, sia pien di fior
11 Act II - Humming Chorus
12 Act III - Introduction... Oh eh! Oh eh!
13 Act III - Con onor muore
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