OP1537. MADAMA BUTTERFLY, Live Performance, 3 Sept., 1948, w.Ormandy Cond. Hollywood Bowl S.O.; Eleanor Steber, Jan Peerce, Richard Bonelli, Suzanne Carré, etc. 2-VAI 1220. Out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 089948122029
“American soprano Eleanor Steber sang this fully-staged production in the Hollywood Bowl in 1948, with a conductor who had never previously led an opera! It was a role she had not yet sung in the opera house, but she aced it. Her credo hints at why: ‘I learnt every role as Eleanor Steber. When I have learnt it using all the techniques at my command, gradually this role takes me over. When I finally get it on stage, I become that character. At the same time, part of me is wholly aware of the what my character is doing, because to become emotionally lost in a role is to fail to project it beyond yourself’.
Her voice is ideal for Butterfly. Light-voiced (de los Angeles, dal Monte) and heavier-voiced (Callas, Scotto) sopranos have been successful in this role, and Steber has the charm and flexibility associated with the first group and the dramatic heft of the second; this really is the best of both worlds. Better yet, she is a strong actress. As with Callas, the most vivid moments are the conversational exchanges with Pinkerton, Sharpless, and Suzuki, in which her sensitivity to words and inflections fleshes out her portrayal and makes it seem natural….Through her versatile voice and her dramatic technique, she makes the transition from shy child-bride to tragic, deserted woman as convincing as it can be.”
“The mind is occupied constantly with admiration for the excellence in all the technical essentials of singing. There can hardly have been, for instance, a cleaner singer than Steber. There is never a smudged or awkwardly taken interval, and her accuracy in staccato and the placing of notes is uncanny. She commands a real legato, an evenness of production which is habitual, as an absolute first condition of success in her art. The voice is whole and indivisible, with no register breaks, and no weakness in the commonly vulnerable areas.”