Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Verdi - La Traviata|
Actors: Mireille Delunsch, Matthew Polenzani, Zeljko Lucic, Damiana Pinti, Yutaka Sado
Director: Peter Mussbach
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Five stars are simply not enough - the most moving Traviata
Ingrid Heyn | Melbourne, Australia | 05/28/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an astonishing DVD. It brings home to me as never before just how fragile Violetta's hold on life is, and how fragile her entire life and her possibility of happiness is. The events of her life have placed her in a situation of emotional and societal vulnerability, and the amazing performances and the utterly remarkable directing here highlight this without ever transgressing Verdi's idea, music and storyline.
I cannot praise the directing and the IDEA of the setting by Peter Wussbach highly enough. I usually prefer traditional settings, but this was like a "wow" that punched through all my expectations. The conception is relatively abstract yet simple - Violetta is present throughout as either a real figure whose proximity to death makes her appear almost "not there", or the whole thing is her memory of the great romantic love, or it is an almost ghost-like impression, after her death, of what occurred - take your pick. It doesn't matter - what matters is that here we have a woman who, above all, is dying. Everything else is secondary to that - she is fragile, almost transparent, at times fading, overwhelmingly vulnerable, and the fact that this is a great and tragic love story is most beautifully INCLUDED in the fact that this is also a commentary upon the delicacy and fragility of her life. She is so close to death - one can see it from the start.
The use of a night-lit highway... the portrayal of all the figures that come and go as being separate from Violetta... the incredible frisson of love and despair that is conveyed between the main characters (Violetta, her one (and last) beloved, his father)... I've never seen anything to equal it. The casting is outstanding. There isn't a weak link.
Mireille Delunsch is outstanding as the doomed Violetta, attired in a white "Hollywood" gown and with a distinct look of Marilyn Monroe in this portrayal. It's not a fluffy performance - it's just incredibly vulnerable. Her acting is magnificent and her voice is so beautiful and emotionally involved that I was utterly absorbed and overwhelmingly moved. It's the finest Violetta I have seen. In essence, the acting is so dramatically fragile that I could well imagine Callas having conveyed something similar.
Matthew Polenzani is a fantastic Alfredo. He looks beautiful, ardent, sufficiently youthful to make the story credible - I was very taken with him. And the voice...! Why haven't we heard more of this wonderful tenor? He's got everything one could wish for - the role is sung passionately, tenderly, with the tormented moments of sudden violence when his jealousy and pain overwhelm him, with the unrestrained and all-embracing fervour of young love.
Germont, sung by Zeljko Lucic, couldn't be bettered. His singing is sensitive, powerful, beautiful... his acting is strong and conveys the troubles of a father who wants the best for his son and does not think that Alfredo's involvement with a courtesan is in any way good for him. This very human face of Germont gains even more depth as the duet between Violetta and Alfredo shows his realisation that this "fallen woman" does feel a very real love for his son... and has given up so much for him. That he asks her to give up even more becomes entirely credible - and that is one reason why this entire opera is so heart-breaking.
Violetta's love is doomed from the start. But the deeper tragedy is that her very life was doomed too. From the first moment of her love being born, her life's flower was already fading... She was already dying.
The conducting by Sado and the playing of the Orchestre de Paris are superb. I feel that the entire experience and the entire performance of this opera has never been bettered (although probably equalled).
Recommended so strongly that I hope everyone who reads this will purchase this outstanding DVD."
ravennamoon | Naples, Italy | 01/17/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After reading the only two reviews here on amazon I was confused, and curious. My copy of this version of La Traviata arrived today, and I
have just viewed it---and wow! I own 3 other versions of this opera.
I love this version---very metaphysical, thought provoking and beautiful.
No, it's not your gramma's Traviata. But this one brings out nuances you
may have missed in others. (BTW---the magazine "Opera News" put it on
their best dvd's of 2007 list). Mireille Delunsch is magnificent,
heartbreaking, and yes, as stated in a previous review, shows the
fragility of Violetta. But also, at the end, a strength unseen in
previous Violetta's. LOVED IT!!! THis is one I will look forward to
watching again and again, along with my Netrebko/Villazon version and
the lovely Angela Gheorgiou one as well. If you go for the very traditional, rent it, don't buy. But if you love all the many facets
to this gorgeous opera, don't hesitate."
Violetta as road kill...
Charles G. Johnson | San Francisco, CA | 09/09/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This current example of European Regietheater can be summed up in one word: monotonous. Verdi's heart-wrenching portrait of a good-time girl sacrificing all for the love of a single man hardly contains a monotonous moment. But in the hands of an egocentric director (Peter Mussbach) who wants to be noticed as much as the composer, even this most tuneful and inventive of scores is diminished.
Here at Aix en Provence the opera is performed without pause as Violetta takes a night-time road trip through the rain and pain to reach her Final Destination 5. With the exception of a few bony chairs that make brief appearances and water dripping on clear plastic curtains in front of the stage, all of the scenery is provided by lasers and projections. The strip of highway that serves as the stage becomes at times a fast trip through a tunnel or a journey over a large city bridge, but most of the time there is just darkness illuminated by lane markings.
And, just as there is so little contrast in the scenery, there is a disturbing stasis in the way the singers portray their characters...Violetta is already half-dead at the start of the piece and spends more time lying in the road than a dead skunk. Gravity seems to be her special enemy: she can't seem to stay on her feet for more than 3 minutes at a time. Furthermore, she never leaves the stage nor changes her dress from the start of the overture to the last sad note, when the Health Department finally scrapes her up. Alfredo is somewhat cold and stiff and seems not to be too engaged in the proceedings. Germont, the one character who is usually the most wooden, is here the most moving, and physically touches Violetta much more than Alfredo does. Is stage director Mussbach trying to elicit echoes of the love triangle of Tristan & Isolde here? If so, bad move.
Without visual variety or progression of personality, how could boredom not set in? It's no wonder that the director chose to eliminate the intermissions, giving this production a more compact cinematic feel, with the tragic Marilyn Monroe (Violetta) giving an overly-histrionic one-note performance. Definitely no Oscar in view here.
One thing about this production that does impress, though, is the sense of musical preparedness and unity. Seldom have the singers in an Italian opera been so keenly in tune with the conductor's wishes without seeming to constantly stare into the pit. Although I disagreed with many of conductor Yutaka Sado's tempos, I marvelled at the way the singers and the orchestra were so precise and tight. Certain crescendos and instances of rich orchestral detail brought me little stabs of pleasure, even if the miking in the pit produced a somewhat boxy sound. If you want to hear a conductor in total control, this opera recording is a fine example.
In fact, in viewing this performance, I thought it might actually be more enjoyable as an audio CD, since the visuals only detract from these limitedly laudable musical aspects. Mireille Lelunsch as Marilyn/Violetta has a light and agile voice, but not a particularly beautiful one, and didn't try to reach for the high Eb in the first act. I prefer a meatier sound for this heroine, such as Ileana Cotrubas or Anna Moffo or even Renata Scotto. Matthew Polenzani's Alfredo was also on the light side, which gave this youth a needed sense of youth. Ardor and passion, however, were sorely lacking in his portrayal, undoubtedly at Mussbach's request. Zeljko Lucic as Germont was the evening's pleasure, a Mephistophelean father that, despite a thin upper vocal range, knew how to cajole and dominate. The other bit players seemed to be from a (really bad) training school, or from the chorus.
In the overall creation of the character of Violetta, I'm still partial to the Zeffirelli film with Teresa Stratas. Yes, her voice wasn't at its freshest, but SHE understood the journey from carefree philistine to unbelieving love object, to contented member of the country gentry, to wretched sacrificial lamb, to pitiable casualty. The visual world Zeffirelli creates, plus Domingo at his heartiest and handsomest, comprise a road trip far more fascinating and satisfying than Mussbach's monotonous, misconcieved, moribund mess.