Freni, Scotto, Tebaldi ,Price, de los Angeles ....many are the Butterfly's who in their various ways have broken our hearts, but to me there is none like Callas. The highly charged mature passions of Norma or Tosca or Medea are set aside and what we have here is miraculous presence of a fifteen year old child - a child who through the torment of the betrayal of an unwavering faith grows up... and kills herself.
Sweetness, innocence, depth, pathos, tragedy... the revelation of profound human truth... are all present.
John Ardoin in his valuable book on Callas's recordings ,THE CALLAS LEGACY , points out:
"Callas' voice seems a vessel which can be filled or drained to various levels of intensity at will. What controlled this flow was the text, for Callas when most moving, sang exactly on the word."
Yes, here, every word is considered - musically and dramatically, every nuance expressed and yet, in the accumulation of seemingly small details, the most complex, intriguing and profoundly stirring grand picture of a whole character emerges. Ardoin goes on "Of course, she as always was dependent on the amount of room a conductor gave her to make her dramatic points. Karajan supplies all the musical space needed while retaining a firm musical unity." Before she made this recording in 1955 her only active contact with the work were two of its arias - and she only sang the role on stage for three performances ( in Chicago a couple of months after this recording. ) And yet she seems to have understood everything about Butterfly and, through her, so do we. -John Conklin BLO Artistic Advisor
recorded in Milan 1955 for EMI Classics - Buy it here!