9.3 C
New York
Saturday, November 28, 2020
Advertisement

Puccini: Madama Butterfly [Sferisterio Opera Festival] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080i/60
  • Audio Codec: PCM 2.0, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish, Korean, Chinese
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1
  • Studio: C Major
  • Blu-ray Release Date: June 13 (UK)/June 28 (US), 2011
  • List Price: $45.98

[amazon-product]B004YHBAJU[/amazon-product]

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B004YHBAJU[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Madama Butterfly (Sferisterio Opera Festival) -

Purchase Madama Butterfly on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:2.5/5]
The Performance
[Rating:2.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:2.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)


The Performance

[Rating:2.5/5]

The Sferisterio Opera Festival has been a popular event in Macerata, Italy since the 1920’s, located in a spacious outdoor arena fitted with a center stage. For the past 5 years, the festival has been managed by international star director, Pier Luigi Pizzi, and has focused on mainstream Italian operatic repertoire. Madama Butterfly certainly qualifies as mainstream and has been a performance staple since its premiere in 1904.  The story is heart-rending in the best operatic tradition.  A United States naval officer, Lieutenant B.F. Pinkerton, stationed in Nagasaki, has become enamored of a young Japanese girl, Cio-Cio-San or Madama Butterfly. American consul, Sharpless, and the crafty broker, Goro arrange a “marriage” before Pinkerton leaves for the States, promising that he will return. Butterfly has renounced her family and religion and has only the support of her faithful companion, Suzuki. When she bears Pinkerton’s child, Butterfly becomes optimistic that he will come back for her. Pinkerton finally does return, but it is to bring his son back to America to live with his American wife. Butterfly agrees to this but only if Pinkerton will come to see her one last time. When he does, she commits hara-kiri with her father’s ceremonial dagger.

This 2009 production uses a classic Japanese house set. The nearly all Italian cast will be largely unknown to most operagoers. Being native Italian speakers aids the cause of clear and idiomatic diction. However, that is as good as it gets.  High-definition video formats put a premium on the “telegenicity” of the performers and the two lead principals clearly fall short on this count.  Neither soprano Raffaella Angeletti (Butterfly) nor her Pinkerton, tenor Massimiliano Pisapia are physically attractive, the former having a hawk-like visage complete with prominent nose and overbite, the latter, the rotundity of a pasta gourmand.  Neither of their vocal performances can overcome these visual shortcomings, Butterfly trending toward stridor, Pinkerton, toward scooping and bellowing.  The best performances come from supporting singers, Annunziata Vestri (Suzuki) and Claudio Sguaro (Sharpless), but you don’t go to Madama Butterfly for the Suzuki or Sharpless. The direction from the pit by maestro Daniele Callegari is deft and sympathetic to the singers.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The whiteness of the very simple set is offset by the otherwise dark lighting toward good dramatic effect. The detailed closeups are well managed by the video crew; however, as previously mentioned, neither heroine or hero benefit from this expert camera work. The close facial shots are particularly unkind to  Butterfly who, when introducing her son to Sharpless, appears more grandmotherly than motherly. Adding fuel to the fire is the dream dance sequence between Acts II and III which features a couple representing Butterfly and Pinkerton, who, unlike their vocal counterparts are extremely attractive. The set is well handled, offsetting the fact that this production issues from a large sports arena.

Audio Quality

[Rating:2.5/5]

I am not certain that the singers were head-miked but they do seem to be coming from a far different acoustic than the orchestra in the pit. The shrill quality of Angeletti’s soprano is exaggerated by this recording technique, while.   both mezzo-soprano Vestri and baritone Sguaro seem less disadvantaged.  The orchestra, which plays a huge role in the dramatic tension of this opera, sounds underpowered, although judging from the videos of the pit, there certainly appear to be a sufficient number of players.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2.5/5]

There is a gallery of cast photos and two brief pieces on the concept of this production and its staging.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:2.5/5]

This is the initial Blu-ray release of Madama Butterfly. Its strong suit is the videography providing outstanding detail and management of the dramatic stage action. However, with the exceptions noted above, the level of vocalism is that of provincial house singers at best. The physical unattractiveness of both Butterfly and Pinkerton is off-putting and reminds me of a video decision made decades ago to have the much slimmer Placido Domingo sub for Luciano Pavarotti in the von Karajan Butterfly DVD. This latter disc is still, in my opinion, one of the finest on screen realizations of this work. For a different perspective, the Met Opera’s DVD recording of the late Anthony Minghella’s production is also worthy of consideration. Given the popularity of this Puccini opera, it is a certainty that other Blu-ray performances will follow. In this case, the judicious move would be to wait on the sidelines until those discs are issued.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B004YHBAJU[/amazon-product]

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B004YHBAJU[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Madama Butterfly (Sferisterio Opera Festival) -

Purchase Madama Butterfly on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:2.5/5]
The Performance
[Rating:2.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:2.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

Join the Discussion on Our Forum

Advertisement

Related Articles

The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review)

A stunning 4K Ultra HD restoration of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy arrives.

My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising (Blu-ray Review)

An excellent entry (or farewell?) for this beloved franchise with lots of action and great animation.

Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula (Blu-ray Review)

This is an uneven but still fun to watch sequel to the 2016 smash hit zombie/action movie lands on Blu-ray with a rollicking Atmos mix.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Stay Connected

301FansLike
0FollowersFollow
723FollowersFollow
- Advertisement -

Notice of Compliance with FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION 16 CFR Part 255

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR part 255 guidelines, this website hereby states that it receives free discs and other theatrical or home entertainment “screeners” and access to screening links from studios and/or PR firms, and is provided with consumer electronics devices on loan from hardware manufacturers and/or PR firms respectively for the purposes of evaluating the products and its content for editorial reviews. We receive no compensation from these companies for our opinions or for the writing of reviews or editorials.
Permission is sometimes granted to companies to quote our work and editorial reviews free of charge. Our website may contain affiliate marketing links, which means we may get paid commission on sales of those products or the services we write about. Our editorial content is not influenced by advertisers or affiliate partnerships. This disclosure is provided in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR § 255.5: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Latest Articles

The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review)

A stunning 4K Ultra HD restoration of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy arrives.

My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising (Blu-ray Review)

An excellent entry (or farewell?) for this beloved franchise with lots of action and great animation.

Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula (Blu-ray Review)

This is an uneven but still fun to watch sequel to the 2016 smash hit zombie/action movie lands on Blu-ray with a rollicking Atmos mix.

Chernobyl (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review)

The account of the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster in Ukraine, Soviet Union, and the subsequent health and political fallout is told in five gripping episodes.

2067 (Blu-ray Review)

With the world deforested and people dying from a deadly disease caused by synthetic oxygen, a quiet tunnel worker receives a message from the future and must save humanity in this uneven but watchable dystopian Aussie indie sci-fi thriller.
%d bloggers like this: