03 October 2006

Cristina Gallardo-Domas

Puccini MADAMA BUTTERFLY, Met, 30.IX.2006; c. Fisch; Gallardo-Domas, Giordani, Zifchak, Croft.

Gallardo-Domas's frayed voice is less effective in Act I, when Butterfly's music carries a wide smile, and wobbly top notes make Cio-Cio-San sound matronly (quindici she ain't). In Act II, once the darkness sets in, the wobble, managed properly, becomes an asset. A wide vibrato launched from an open palate (in most of the Love Duet in Act I) is unattractive; however, upon a hooded palate, in melancholic ("Oh le dolci parole" during the letter scene) or highly charged lines (the "Che tua madre" stanza), a wobble is a wail, a futile struggle. In this opera, it resembles the beating of clipped wings. With an electric chest voice (the forbidding "Va a fargli compagnia") and rich Kabaivanska-style middle register, phrases that rise stepwise from bottom to top (like the "Ci portera lontano" and thereabouts) trembles in full, emphatic verismo. In the final scene, pivoting on "Tu, tu piccolo iddio", peppered with mini-diminuendos and cutting fortes, the devastating Minghella staging is exceeded only by Gallardo-Domas's full commitment to the drama. Tiny in stature, she is an immense artist. On this demanding spinto touchstone, she may have harmed her lyric instrument irreversibly. The sacrifice is noted, and deeply appreciated by the heart.