Superbly sung Butterfly with Mirella Freni and Placido Domingo

Continuing the Jean-Pierre Ponnelle marathon we come to his 1974 film of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly with Mirella Freni in the title role and a young Placido Domingo as Pinkerton.  Musically this is the most satisfying of the Ponelle productions I’ve yet come across.  Freni is superb.  Radiant is not too strong a term,  Domingo sings pretty much as well (we’ll come to points of dramatic interpretation later) and the supporting cast is flawless.  There’s some serious luxury casting here with Christa Ludwig as a superb Suzuki.  Robert Kerns is an excellent Sharpless and Michel Sénéchal equally good as Goro.  Herbert von Karajan conducts.  He tends to go for sheer beauty of sound rather than maximum drama but what beauty of sound!  The soloists are wonderfully backed up by the Wirner Philharmoniker and the Staatsopernchor.  Continue reading