Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Verdi La Traviata |
Actors: Angela Gheorghiu, Ramon Vargas, Roberto Frontali, Natascha Petrinsky, Lorin Maazel
Directors: Liliana Cavani, Mariana Bianchi
Genres: Indie & Art House, Musicals & Performing Arts
VERDI:LA TRAVIATA - Blu-Ray Movie
Lavish, well-sung Traviata that is lacking in that extra mag
Ivy Lin | NY NY | 02/03/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
""La Traviata" is probably Verdi's most popular opera, despite the fact that the leading role, Violetta, is notoriously difficult to sing. I've seen Traviata in the house maybe 4 or 5 and have walked away unsatisfied each time. And it was always because I found the Violetta dearly wanting in some aspect.
On paper, this video, released by La Scala, should leap to the very top of great Traviatas on video. Angela Gheorghiu became a star in the 1994 Covent Garden production of Traviata and 13 years later, she's still one of the world's leading Violettas. Ramon Vargas has exactly the right type of voice for Alfredo -- warm, ardent, youthful (even though by now he looks rather portly and middle-aged). Roberto Frontali does no harm as Germont. The production is gorgeous -- very traditional, but not tacky. The costumes are lavish and capture the wasteful, decadent life of the Parisian demi-monde.
Yet Gheorghiu's Violetta has, unfortunately, not really deepened over the years. The 1994 production of Traviata was caught on video and Gheorghiu's Violetta back then still had an appealing air of youthful innocence, which added immeasurably to her portrayal. Her naturally smoky, dusky voice gave her Violetta the right amount of melancholy. Her snow-white skin and dark hair made her look disconcertingly like the portraits of the real life Violetta, a French courtesan named Marie Duplessis. Most of all, her Violetta was still a young lady who seemed to sincerely crave romantic love. The Alfredo (Frank Lopardo) and the Germont (Leo Nucci) were not on the level of Vargas or Filanoti, but Gheorghiu's Violetta was so compelling it didn't matter.
Thirteen years later, Gheorghiu's voice is still enchantingly smoky and dusky, but she's a Diva, and her portrayal has hardened. She has become a rather calculating performer. It's unreasonable to expect her Violetta to still have the youthful freshness of her 1994 portrayal, but I wish she projected more genuine vulnerability. Her grand gestures and facial expressions make it clear that she considers herself as Tragedienne, but in the end it's not particularly affecting.
There are positives to her portrayal. For one, she and Ramon Vargas have now sung together in quite a few productions and they have that intangible chemistry that was so lacking between her and Lopardo. And although her accuracy in florid passage may not match Maria Callas or Joan Sutherland, she gets through "Sempre libera" much better than most sopranos today. Moreover, her voice is not large, but to her credit she seems to know this and never tries to oversing. This is clearly a soprano who knows her vocal strengths and weaknesses, and seeks to maximize the former and minimize the latter.
Yet at the end of the day a Violetta should break your heart, not simply impress you. I found Gheorghiu more impressive than affecting, and so I don't think I'll be returning to this video anytime soon."