WORKS: Madam Butterfly (in English)
PERFORMER: Cheryl Barker, Paul Charles Clarke, Jean Rigby, Gregory Yurisich, Stuart Kale; Geoffrey Mitchell Choir, Philharmonia Orchestra/Yves Abel
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 3070(2)
The text comes over with telling clarity in this English-language version of Puccini’s Japanese masterpiece, yet even leaving the language question aside this registers as an uncommonly fine and emotionally engaging performance. With the Philharmonia on top form, conductor Yves Abel demonstrates the constant vitality of the music and manages its great climaxes superbly. The delicate palette of orchestral colours is lovingly revealed throughout.
Cheryl Barker encompasses the full lyric and dramatic range of the complex, hugely demanding title role. She brings exceptional commitment to the part, whose tragic potential is impressively realised, to powerful effect. As Pinkerton, Paul Charles Clarke may not offer a truly Italianate timbre but he has plenty of vocal heft and a keen engagement with the text. Gregory Yurisich offers a marvellously detailed and perceptive account of the worldly-wise but ineffectual consul Sharpless. Jean Rigby’s Suzuki is a tower of strength, and Stuart Kale has almost too fine a voice for the venal Goro. With all the minor roles impressively taken, and the overview grand and nobly conceived, this is a performance that will undoubtedly give much pleasure and merit repeated hearings.