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Angela Gheorghiu as Puccini’s geisha

This umpteenth studio recording of Giacomo Puccini’s tearjerker is built around Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu, but it’s her co-star, Jonas Kaufmann, who really makes the listener sit up and take notice.

Gheorghiu is blessed with an uncommonly beautiful voice, especially in its upper reaches, but it’s on the small side for such a dramatic role. And occasionally her tone spreads slightly under pressure at the climactic moments. It’s telling that she has yet to sing the role live in performance.

Kaufmann, a German tenor whose star is rising fast on the opera scene, captures the tenderness and passion, as well as the self-pity, of Lt. Pinkerton. His flexible voice seems to do just what he asks of it at all times. He is masterful in the long love scene that closes Act 1, but just as striking is the delicacy of his initial exchange with Butterfly – for instance, the way he softly sighs the word “grazie.”

Conductor Antonio Pappano does a splendid job leading the soloists along with the Orchestra and Chorus of the National Academy of Santa Cecilia in Rome.

Ardent Gheorghiu fans will no doubt want to add this two-CD set to their collections. Others, however, may prefer one of the other commercial recordings readily available, including those featuring Mirella Freni or either of the two Renatas – Tebaldi or Scotto.


Angela Gheorghiu and Jonas Kaufmann

“Madama Butterfly” (EMI)

Genre: opera

Grade: B

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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