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042005021020050217Given its popularity now, it's hard to believe that when Giacomo Puccini's opera Madama Butterfly opened in February 1904, the audience positively hated it.

Butterfly was the final collaboration between Puccini and the writers Illica and Giacosa.

After Butterfly, and the death of Luigi Illica, Puccini was once more on the lookout for a suitable librettist, a situation which caused him much anxiety.

Domestic tragedy followed when Puccini's wife Elvira wrongly accused a young servant girl of having a liaison with her husband.

Publicly denounced and hounded the girl committed suicide.

Puccini was unable to write a note for eight months but when he finally picked up his pen again, he produced La fanciulla del West, an opera stylistically very different from anything he'd previously conceived.

When it opened in NEW YORK it was a resounding success.

Viene la sera, vogliatemi bene (Act 1, Madama Butterfly)

Renata Scotto (soprano)

Placido Domingo (tenor)

Philharmonia Orchestra

Lorin Maazel (conductor)

Excerpt from Act 1, La fanciulla del WestFRANCEsco Memeo (tenor)

Aldo Bottion (tenor)

Orazio Mori (bass)

Ernesto Gavazzi (tenor)

Ernesto Panariello (baritone)

Marco Chigari (baritone)

Juan Pons (baritone)

Mara Zampieri (soprano)

Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatro all Scala

Ch'il bel sogno di Doretta (Act 1 La Rondine)

Julia Varady (soprano)BERLIN Radio Symphony Orchestra

Marcello Viotti (conductor)

End of Act 3 (La Rondine)

Kiri te Kanawa (soprano)

Placido Domingo (tenor)LONDON Symphony Orchestra

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c 1525-1594)

4. In the Service of God

Palestrina spent almost his entire life as a church musician. Donald Macleod and Jeremy Summerly trace the path of his career through the highest echelons of the Roman Catholic Church.

Palestrina: Tu es Petrus

The Choir of Westminster Cathedral

James O'Donnell (conductor)

Palestrina: Missa Ecce sacerdos magnus: Credo

BBC Singers

Stephen Cleobury (director)

O Rex gloriae; Missa, O Rex gloriae - Agnus Dei

Westminster Cathedral Choir

Missa Assumpta est Maria - Gloria and Credo

Choir of Clare College, Cambridge

Timothy Brown (conductor)

Vexilla regis

Musica Contexta

Simon Ravens (director)

Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924)

4. America

Given its popularity now, it's hard to believe that when Giacomo Puccini's opera Madama Butterfly opened in February 1904, the audience positively hated it. Butterfly was the final collaboration between Puccini and the writers Illica and Giacosa. After Butterfly, and the death of Luigi Illica, Puccini was once more on the lookout for a suitable librettist, a situation which caused him much anxiety. Domestic tragedy followed when Puccini's wife Elvira wrongly accused a young servant girl of having a liaison with her husband. Publicly denounced and hounded the girl committed suicide. Puccini was unable to write a note for eight months but when he finally picked up his pen again, he produced La fanciulla del West, an opera stylistically very different from anything he'd previously conceived. When it opened in New York it was a resounding success.

Francesco Memeo (tenor)

Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra

London Symphony Orchestra

05 LAST2005042220050429Disenchanted with life in Europe, in 1939 Igor Stravinsky moved to America where he remained until his death in 1971.

Donald Macleod details the final chapters of Stravinsky's life.

Requiem Canticles

Susan Bickley (contralto)

David Wilson-Johnson (bass-baritone)

Stephen Richardson (bass)

New LONDON Chamber Choir

Oliver Knussen (conductor)

Symphony in Three Movements

Suisse Romande Orchestra

Ernest Ansermet (conductor)

The Rake's Progress

Regina Sarfaty (mezzo soprano)

Alexander Young (tenor)

John Reardon (baritone)

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Igor Stravinsky (conductor).

Isaac Albeniz (1860 - 1909)

5/5. In the final programme of this week, Donald Macleod examines Albeniz's skill as an orchestrator.

Music includes:

Catalonia

Mexico City Philharmonic

Enrique Batiz (conductor)

Merlin (excerpts)

Anna Maria Martinez (Ninian)

Coros and Orquestra de Madrid

Jose de Eusebio (conductor)

Iberia, Book 4

Alicia de Larrocha.

Igor Stravinsky (1882 - 1971)

5/5. America

Disenchanted with life in Europe, in 1939 Igor Stravinsky moved to America where he remained until his death in 1971. Donald Macleod details the final chapters of Stravinsky's life.