La Traviata was recorded at what was one of Venice's most exquisite 18th-century opera houses, La Fenice, tragically destroyed by fire in 1996, and now rebuilt. This glorious house is where La Traviata was premiered in 185... more »3. In this memorable performance with the orchestra and chorus of La Fenice and Balletto di Toscana, Slovak soprano Edita Gruberova takes the leading role of Violetta, the tragic heroine, persuaded by Alfredo's father, Giorgio, to sacrifice her happiness with Alfredo (Neil Shicoff) for the sake of family honor.« less
D. J. Edwards | Cheshire, CT United States | 05/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Gruberova is inspired in this traditionally staged and beautifully sung Traviata. From the very beginning you know this is going to be something very special: with Rizzi in the pit and Gruberova and Shicoff on the stage in Act 1 singing, acting and conducting are beyond praise. And from there is just gets better and better until the final tragic ending. As much as I raved over Kathleen Battle in the recently released L'elisir, and my comments there are not about to change. But I am simply left without words to describe Gruberova's performance. From piano to forte, her timber is extremely beautiful, very moving and with her acting we are watching a life story not a musical drama. Shicoff is in equal vocal estate and as always is very moving. There is no more sincere an artist than he. His Rudolfo with Cotrubas is equally compelling but that hasn't made it to DVD. That Royal Opera performance still remains languishing in the VHS vaults somewhere.. Zancanaro fills out the noble trio with splendor and vocal drama. Rizzi looks very young but his conducting is magnificent catching all the nuances and making no melody trite or inconsequential. This dvd adds to the growing list of must haves. I don't think the singers here can be overrated, especially Gruberova who is just simply stunning, beautiful, you choose the adjective. Listen, try and buy. Am I the only opera buff who thinks these recordings are worth having? Am I deluded? Nobody is reviewing these treasures. You can certainly own your opinion but let's here it. I can't be the only one impressed with these recently released opera dvds. Happy viewing and listening!"
A soaring Violetta
C. Boerger | Columbus, OH USA | 02/13/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I don't remember being this moved by a production of La Traviata in a long time. Are you interested in FEELING the opera in addition to seeing and hearing it? Climb aboard.
The three leads are in gorgeous voice, devastatingly dramatic in their respective roles. It took me a little while to warm up to Edita Gruberova's Violetta, but by opera's end I was sold. Her Addio del passato(performed uncut) ranks with the best I've heard, and her physical performance improves over the course of the opera, culminating in a flawless rendition of the character's deterioration, redemption, death, etc. Neil Shicoff might not look the part of Alfredo(he's rather bookish for the ardent loverboy), but his voice is lovely and resounding, and one gets the feeling that if the tenor were blessed with the smoldering looks of a Placido Domingo, he would be much more well known and appreciated. Giorgio Zancanaro is perfect as the elder Germont, making the character more sympathetic than(perhaps) he has a right to be. The final scene is shattering, with both men huddled together, impotently watching Violetta fade out, coming to the realization that they have just been playing roles imposed on them by the society they live in while Violetta is the only real person among them, the only character in the drama who has truly lived, and one gets the impression that these two sad and regretful men feel unworthy to be in the same room with such a soaring free spirit. It's a magnificent bit of acting on the parts of Shicoff and Zancanaro. The fact that Gruberova's Violetta doesn't bear any grudges only reinforces her superiority, and her death is exultant, both vocally and dramatically.
The sets are beautiful, somewhat dark, less detailed and opulent than in some productions but no less effective. Carlo Rizzi's conducting is slower than the norm but rarely to the point of being plodding or distracting. There are a couple of cuts in the score, but unfortunately that's a common practice with Traviata unless the conductor is Solti or Levine. In this case, the excisions aren't damaging to the overall performance, just a little annoying.
I own two DVDs of La Traviata, this one and the Solti/Gheorghiu production. I'm not going to pick one over the other because both are wonderful. My advice: if you can only buy one Traviata, play a game of eeny meeny miny mo, if not, grab them both."
This one is a winner!
D. Baker | Cambridge, New Zealand | 07/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Verdi's creative genius must have been running white hot when he composed this lovely poignant masterpiece and not surprisingly it has remained one of the world's favourite operas ever since. However, it requires a sympathetic sensitive approach for any production to do its treasures full justice. This recording of a live performance, in the venue where the opera originally received its premier, certainly meets the challenge! Indeed I found the entire production quite exceptional.
Central to this success is Edita Gruberová's outstanding performance. Whether being enchanting and beautiful at her soirée in Act 1, or distraught and appealing in Act 2, through to the difficulties of the ending in Act 3, musically, vocally and dramatically she is absolutely superb. Her lovely bright soprano takes on wonderful subtle shades of tone and her controlled pianissimo is at times unbelievable. Hers is no mere role, she is Violetta.
Her fellow principles are scarcely less admirable. Arguably Verdi gives the elder Germont some of the best arias in the opera and Giorgio Zancanaro makes the most of these. A commanding presence on stage, his powerful rich baritone provides the perfect foil for the diva, matching her for artistry and depth of feeling. Together in scene one of Act 2, they produce, what is perhaps the highlight of the opera for me. I find myself replaying it time and again, yet still finding some new subtle nuance previously overlooked.
Neil Schicoff as Alfredo is also in fine voice, but vocally he may lack a little of the finesse constantly exhibited by his fellow principles. Also, to be really nit picky, I found his tendency to sweat under the lights a tad distracting. That being said, his acting is up there on the same exalted plain as the others.
Conductor Carlo Rizzi draws splendid playing from the resident orchestra in nice balance with the vocal lines. He is spacious in the lyrical passages, whilst making the most of Verdi's exciting rhythms to drive the more dramatic passages.
Verdi's choruses are always an integral part of his attraction and in this production they will surely not disappoint. Oh yes, and there is a little makeweight in the form of a delightful cameo ballet appearance by Gabrielle Brown in Act 2, scene 2.
The atmosphere created by the Teatro la Fenice, together with the simple but well designed sets and colourful costumes are all part of the production's overall charm. As with all such recordings one catches a few extraneous sounds and audience noise, but this never becomes too intrusive; neither is the spontaneous applause after some of the major arias. Indeed one feels like joining in.
I am aware that there are several versions of this opera available, but I am not in a position to make comparisons as this is the only one I have experienced. However, I feel it would take the harshest possible critic to find too much at fault with this one. Personally I am really enthusiastic about this DVD. In fact I absolutely love it and if I could award it more than five stars I would not hesitate to do so. "
Unique interpretations of characters, believable and very en
Veda Deru | Brooklyn, NY USA | 08/15/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Gruberova is wonderful in this performance, with luscious changes of texture and amplitude, especially in her upper register, showing tremendous control combined with artistic sense at every breath and glance. Shicoff may take a few minutes to get used to, but soon I felt his romantic attachment and admired his beautiful singing, as well. I actually prefer him to almost all other Alfredos, albeit his voice is not quite as strong as some, but he, like Gruberova, showed artistry and did not throw away a note and maintained phrasing. I love this recording. There is certainly no "definitive" Traviata, but this is certainly in my short list!"
A Dream Version of La Traviata
J. de Baun | Atlanta, GA | 08/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This the best La Traviata I've ever seen/heard on DVD. Gruberova sounds like a blend of the best of Sutherland and Caballe. She sings the most difficult coloratura as if it's childsplay. The timbre of her voice is gorgeous! This is vastly better than Zeffirelli's (sp?) latest version that features a listless Violetta and a cramped staging. My only critique is that Shicoff (Alfredo) looks rather goofy and unattractive. His voice if fine - just not the kind of man women dream about ...
Gruberova makes Sills and Angela G. pale by comparison. Her gowns look like something Garbo would have worn. The sets and ambience (the world's most gorgeous opera house)add a special magic to this fantasy version of one of Verdi's masterpieces."