Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Verdi - La Traviata / Eva Mei Piotr Beczala Thomas Hampson Franz Welser-Most Zurich Opera|
Actors: Jurgen Flimm, Katharina Peetz, Zurich Opera House, Welser-Most, Miroslav Christoff
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
A Dramatically Effective 'Traviata'
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 01/29/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD of a live 2005 performance from the Zürich Opera under the musical direction of Franz Welser-Möst has many things to recommend it -- the young tenor Piotr Beczala as Alfredo, the marvelous Thomas Hampson as Giorgio Germont, the playing of the Zurich Opera orchestra, the simple but effective sets by by Erich Wonder, the uncluttered stage direction by Jürgen Flimm. It also has some flaws: strangely variable volume level of the recorded sound sometimes coming on so loud as to make one reach for the volume control, and the uneven performance of the Violetta, Eva Mei who, for all her merits, gives a dramatically effective performance marred by occasional difficulties with vocal production. Still, overall I felt this was a moving production, one that I would recommend, although perhaps not as an only DVD of one of Verdi's most popular operas.
The most bothersome flaw here was the Violetta. This is, after all, her opera, and if the soprano singing the part has problems the whole suffers. Her voice seemed unsettled in the first act and the most noticeable thing was her inability to cut through the orchestral and choral sound at vital moments. 'É strano ... 'Ah, fors' è lui' was strangely unmoving and the voice showed some strain in both the coloratura and the high notes. Things got better in the succeeding acts although there were still moments when the voice seemed unsupported, breathy and almost inaudible. At other moments, though, as in 'Ah, dite alla giovine' Mei produced some stunning soft singing that went straight the heart. Perhaps I'm being unjustly critical. Certainly Mei's acting was effective and in the opera's third act she was utterly touching.
Thomas Hampson is one of opera's treasures, of course, and his impersonation of Giorgio Germont is practically patented. In this production the setting has been updated to what appears to be the early 1900s. Germont appears for all the world to be a Swiss banker (fitting perhaps, given this is the Zürich Opera House). Hampson's acting is nuanced and his vocal contribution is thrilling. 'Pura siccome un angelo' brings tears to one's eyes, for all that Germont is being a bit of jerk when he importunes Violetta on behalf of his daughter. 'Di Provenza il mar' brings the biggest applause of the evening. His participation in the heart-breaking third act could not be bettered.
The big surprise for me, since I'd never heard of him before, was the Polish tenor Piotr Beczala. He is an attractive young man with a Domingo-like baritonal tenor with flexibility, thrust, and heft, and Beczala handles it with intelligence and taste. This is a biggish lyric sound that can rise to the challenges of the score's dramatic moments, but supply honeyed tone when required, as in the final duet, 'Parigi, o cara.' For me, this young man is a real discovery. 'Un dì felice' is marvelous. The confrontation scene in Act II is perhaps dramatically a bit histrionic but the singing is right on.
Welser-Möst is a fine opera conductor, as his work at the Zürich opera house has shown. His orchestra plays like angels for him. I liked this DVD as a whole and don't wish to focus too much on the difficulties I've pointed out.
Subtitles: Italian, English, German, Spanish, French, Japanese. Sound: PCM Stereo, Dolby 5.1, DTS 5.1. TT=128mins.
GREAT VIOLETTA, WONDERFUL ALFREDO, POOR GERMONT
Bartolome Mesa Gil | Malaga, SPAIN | 02/28/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Eva Mei's voice has matured, gaining body and expressive power, and here she manages to go to the heart of the character in a powerful, subtle and beautifully sung Violetta. She has all the notes and sings them with feeling and full dramatic awareness. In fact she could teach a lesson or two to more promoted divas of today as Fleming or Gheorgiu. Beczala is a marvelous Alfredo, with a powerful lyric voice and plenty of "squillo", used with great sensitivite and, though he is not as good dramatically as Mei, he certainly creates a credible character. The big dissapointment for me is the Germont of Thomas Hampson. He's a great singer and I have enjoyed many of his recordings, but he never seemed entirely right for Verdi. Here he offers a very stentorian and unidiomatic performance, failing to catch the moral nastiness of the character and portraying a feeble bourgeois, often aimlessly moving around the stage and confusing being forceful with being plain loud. Subtlety seems foreign to him this night. The producction is not intrusive, but not particularly interesting either. The orchertra sounds well. Still a top rate for the excellence of the two central characters."
A fine version of La traviata
Mia Arponen | Tampere Finland | 06/08/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I was positively surprised in seeing this DVD. I wasn't sure of how Eva Mey would suit to the role of Violetta, but she was really good. Of course, she looks good, but she also sounded good and knows how to sing bel canto. Piotr Beczala is superb as Alfredo. The only minus here is Thomas Hampson. He isn't really a Verdi singer and his singing isn't on the level of Mey and Beczala, but his acting was just awful. It was not as much acting as overacting. He made father Germont an idiot. It spoiled some of the opera. I like Thomas Hampson, but this role just isn't for him.
The settings are elegant, so are the costumes. And all the other singers are all right. I really enjoyed this even if I had to shut my eyes for a while because of Hampson's Germont. What a pity."