NEW YORK — There were no boos for one of opera's biggest cads.

To the contrary, the despicable Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton drew rousing applause at the Metropolitan Opera House as tenor Roberto Alagna poured out his soul in his first portrayal of that ugly American in Puccini's "Madama Butterfly."

The French-Sicilian singer was in complete control in the eye-catching production by Academy Award-winning director Anthony Minghella.

It was Alagna's second strong outing in the Met's young season. He won praise last month for Gounod's "Romeo et Juliette," his first performance here since he stormed out of La Scala opera house in December after being booed during Verdi's "Aida."

The biggest cheers went to American soprano Patricia Racette, making her Met role debut as Butterfly, Pinkerton's faithful but spurned wife.

The Navy lieutenant marries the 15-year-old geisha Cio-Cio-San while his ship is docked in Nagasaki. She converts to Christianity, then is disowned by her relatives.

Only her maid Suzuki (American mezzo Maria Zifchak) stands by her. She helps Cio-Cio-San dress in her wedding kimono, and then the bride and groom sing their love duet.

Alagna was a cool cad, singing smoothly and largely without effort.

Other standouts included the heartfelt Zifchak and Italian baritone Luca Salsi in a robust Met debut.

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