How can you possibly go wrong with this one? One of the most popular of all operas starring one of the most popular of all opera stars singing one of her true signature roles--it's a no-brainer. This 1976 performance fro... more »m the Filene Center of Wolf Trap Farm Park for the Performing Arts in Virginia stars Beverly Sills in all her silky voiced glory. As Violetta, Verdi's most sympathetic tragic heroine, America's most beguiling diva is pitch-perfect all the way through several of the composer's miraculously melodic arias. Her lover, Alfredo, is played by Henry Price, who holds his own admirably with the superstar. Verdi specialist Julius Rudel conducts a finely detailed account of the score, and Tito Capobianco's production is an appropriate primer for novice opera fans--the vivid sets and costumes never detract from the central love story. Kirk Browning's straightforward video direction follows suit. --Kevin Filipski« less
"Although Beverly Sills gave a magnificent performance, this video was poorly made. The subtitles could not be removed and that was very anoying. There are many distortions on the video, such as flickering, throughout the entire performance. The top of the directors head was caught on tape in several scenes. I wish that more people who reviewed this DVD would have commented on these points. Had I known the poor filming quality in advance, I would not have purchased this one."
Viva The Diva: A La Traviata For The Ages
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Verdi's La Traviata remains one of the most popular, performed, produced and recorded operas in history. Well-trained sopranos would give their right foot to debut as Violetta in any of the major opera houses- New York City's The Met, Italy's La Scala, London's Covent Garden or the Paris Opera. There is a long list and rich history of sopranos who have sung Violetta, opera's most tragic, romantic heroine. In the 19th century, there was Adelina Patti, in World War II Era there was Christine Nilsson, in the 50's there was Maria Callas, in the 60's there was Anna Moffo, Victoria De Los Angeles, Joan Sutherland and somewhat more recently (80's and 90's, 2000- to the present) Ruth Anne Swenson, Renee Fleming, Angela Gheorgiu and Elizabeth Futral. But Beverly Sills stands alone as a remarkable singing-actress, whose Violetta should serve as a lesson to sopranos who take on the role, as Beverly set the bar a little higher with her touching lyricism, convincing acting and dazzling coloratura.Beverly first sang the role in the late 50's and early 60's. It was her first major role outside of the German operetta repertoire she had been singing. The role of Violetta was her debut in Italy's San Carlo theatre in Naples and she performed Violetta in several American opera houses. She went full circle after more than 50 roles she sang in her opera career when she finished her career singing Violetta again in 1975 for Wolf Trap. This performance was taped on video and is now available on DVD. Although it is true that Beverly was 50 and past her "singing prime" and soon to retire from the stage to manage the New York City Opera and the Met, she is still very believable as Violetta, just as touching and surprisingly, still an effective singer. She is paired with tenor Price as the dashing Alfredo and baritone Fredericks as the fatherly Giorgio Germont.This DVD may not have the most impressive and gorgeous scenery on the stage (many productions try to imitate Franco Zeffirelli's luxurious decor in his film version of La Traviata) - we see only simple elegance of tables, candelabrum, and chairs and small-scale interior settings. However, it is of little matter when you hear the fine acting and singing, well delivered and worked with love. To me, Beverly Sills reigns as the definition of Violetta, the ultimate Verdi soprano. Just listen to her soprano showcases in the finale to Act 1 - "E Strano" and the fireworks coloratura "Sempre Libera", her touching self-sacrifice in Act 2's extensive duet with Germont "Non Sapete" "Ditte A La Giovine", her farewell to Alfredo "Amami Alfredo", her despair in the final portions of Act 2 "Alfredo, Alfredo, di questo core" and all her delivery in Act 3- from the melancholia of "Addio Del Passato" to her death scene and exclamation "O gioia!".This is the La Traviata to own and add to your collection of other Traviatas that have stayed with us for ages. Beverly Sills also sang La Traviata on a studio recording in 1974- her voice seems to be in better condition there, probably due to the lesser pressure of performing live. Beverly Sills is paired with the masterful tenor Nicolai Gedda as Alfredo and Rolando Panerai as Giorgio Germont. That recording is available on EMI and also on the book production label "Black Dog Opera Library" that specializes in operas contained in illustrated books that feature the libretto and historic biographical information."
Beverly Sills - Born May 25, 1929
Scott Jelsey | Houston, TX United States | 12/21/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Two different reviewers state Sills age as 50 here. Since this performance is from July 1976, simple math shows that she was 47, not 50. Sills is still quite wonderful here, the voice only slightly diminished - the rest of the cast is provincial at best. A nice memento of Sills live on stage, in one of her best Verdi roles.
A Gorgeous Traviata: Beverly Sills Triumphs
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This performance was captured on film in 1976 as one of many in a series of operas made into film starting in 1974 with La Fille Du Regiment by Donizetti. Beverly Sills was a regular at the Wolf Trap Festival in Virginia, where she sang often at the Filene Center bringing with her conductor Julius Rudel. Rudel conducting La Traviata is a treasure to hear and Beverly Sills' touching and sublime performance of Violetta is remarkable. She is in her late 40's during this production, but she can still deliver and she looks youthful and vibrant despite the negative basher's reviews. Beverly Sills enjoyed enormous success as Violetta Valery and it was her first major starring role. In Act I, she gets into a festive mood for the party and her singing from the Brindisi to the duet Un Di Felice to her closing scene Sempre Libera is amazing. Her scene with Giorgio Germont, played and sung by bass baritone Richard Fredericks, is very moving. Their voices blend together perfectly as he is also a fine singer. She is self-sacrificing, noble and anguished. He is demanding, critical and fighting his own feelings. The chorus and dancing in the Act 2 Party are all great. The finale is moving, and Beverly Sills delivers the death finale with much acclaim.
The only weak link in this performance is Henry Price, who is an obscure tenor, singing Alfredo. He has the refinement called for the role, but he does not have the je ne sai quais, the dynamics and the bravado that is also needed for the role. Placido Domingo makes the best Alfredo and back at the New York City Opera he had performed Alfredo opposite Beverly Sills. Also, Nicolai Gedda, with whom Sills recorded Traviata, is quite exceptional. But Henry Price is singing too straight-forward without any real passion and does not develop his character and remains artificial and does not make for a satisfying Alfredo. Also, he looks feminine and does not have the machismo/masculinity that Domingo usually provides in his performances. The production is nothing extravagant or flashy. Zefferelli's operatic and film productions were lush and elaborate but in this case, for budget reasons perhaps, they made the scenery glossy but not overdone in luxury. The singing however is extraordinary. For fans of Beverly Sills, this is one of her other filmed performances to add to the collection. Others include her performance as Manon, which is an even greater role for her and one which Beverly Sills seems to be the most proud of and most fond of as well as La Fille Du Regiment as Marie and Sill's triumphant performance as Queen Elizabeth in Donizetti's Roberto Devereaux. Also on film is Sills as Rosina in Rossini's Barber of Seville at the Lincoln Center."
La Traviata Like You've Never Seen It Before
Scott Jelsey | 12/03/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Beverly Sills KNEW the role of Verdi's Violetta Valery more than any other singer. She sang the role as a young woman (1950's, 60's) an estimated 54 times in the scope of 63 days. Today, opera lovers, young and old but those who saw Callas live, old, talk about Maria Callas in her performance as Violetta. Always Callas. There is also much hype concerning Joan Sutherland's Violetta and recently Angela Gheorghiu's interpretation. But more than any other soprano in the past 50 years, Beverly Sills mastered the role closest to perfection. In this live, filmed performance, together with the talents of tenor Price (Alfredo) and Fredericks (Giorgio Germont), and a lavish orchestration by Julius Rudel, La Traviata has never been quite like this. I am very disappointed with the other reviews revolving this film. Not only are they very brief, but they neglect the true beauty of Beverly Sill's greatness on stage. Apparently, these are not true Beverly Sills fans. It does not matter that at the timeo of this performance, Sills was turning 50 and soon to be retiring from her marvelous career. Although her voice was not as youthful nor as sonorous as it was in the past, and she looks older, her voice and her acting ability it is still very beautiful and much better than other soprano (like Callas) who lost their voice in their later years."