Since Madama Butterfly has more stage time than other sopranos, it is imperative that the singing actress captures extensive dramatic variety in addition to singing with exquisite tone and an affinity to Puccini. Mirella Freni, one of the greatest recorded Butterfly's of all time, succeeds at these demands with vocal sensitivity and eloquence. She is assisted by Karajan's superb, symphonic conducting, crisply and poignantly realizing all of Puccini's vast moods; Ludwig's urgent, loving and tenderly sung Suzuki; and Pavarotti's endearing and almost likeable Pinkerton. In addition, the Pavarotti-Freni duets are nectars of the gods. Get out the tissues and indulge. - Barbara Eisner Bayer- Amazon -
The pathos of this heart-rending story about a sweet-natured Japanese girl and the caddish American naval lieutenant who marries then deserts her has seldom been conveyed with such emotional directness. In his sumptuous filming of Puccini's opera, director Jean-Pierre Ponnelle uses an array of cinematic effects (including a memorable dream sequence) to evoke the protagonists' irreconcilably separate lives and worlds. As Butterfly, Mirella Freni is unbearably moving in one of the finest performances of her career, while Plácido Domingo makes Lt.Pinkerton a more sympathetic figure than usual.
All of these are live recordings so the sound is quite variable. The standard square box contains separate soft plastic sleeves in which the cds are inserted. The advantage is that the cds are well protected (minor risk for scrapes compared to cardboard), but there is no information printed on the sleeve since it is made of plastic. There is some basic information printed on each cd (name, composer, cd #, the act/s and the date of the recording). There is also a small 24pg booklet that introduces the box including some photos as well as content description for each disc (opera, singers, time and location as well as a list of the separate tracks). I have been collecting these boxes for a while and always find it worthwhile as there are gems nicely interspersed in these collections. By Moonfish