Verdi's opera tells the tragic tale of Violetta, who is dying of consumption, leaves her beloved Alfredo at the request of his father, only to be reunited shortly before her death. — Genre: Performing Arts - Opera — Rating: ... more »NR
bert1761 | Washington, DC United States | 07/12/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While flawed in several respects, this DVD nevertheless records the most thrilling and moving performance of this opera I have ever seen or heard (and I have seen it performed live several times and own most commercial recordings of it). I had the VHS tape for years, but bought the DVD immediately when it became available, because this production deserves to be seen and heard in the best quality possible.The success of this performance is attributable almost exclusively to Angela Gheorghiu. Forget what many say about Maria Callas -- Gheorghiu IS Violetta. She looks the part but, more importantly, she LIVES the part. Her singing and acting is exquisite. She truly makes one feel Violetta's ambivalence and conflict in her big Act I solo, love and sacrifice in the first scene of Act II (the scene between Violetta and Germont pere is perhaps the most complex and riveting in all of opera), her heartbreak in the second scene of that Act, and her relief at her reunion with Alfredo in Act III. Her performance tugs at the heartstrings and drains the tearducts throughout the opera without ever seeming mannered or overdone.Her achievement is even greater in that she can have this effect even playing against two antagonists of limited effectiveness. As Alfredo, Frank Lopardo acts with commitment and youthful sincerity. Unfortunately, his singing tone is rather pinched, which makes him seem stiff and unnatural. Leo Nucci's Germont is woolly of tone and completely unsympathetic. His performance in the Act II duet with Gheorghiu makes him seem like a monster rather than a concerned father. It's to Gheorghiu's great credit that she makes Violetta's agreement to sacrifice herself and her love believable. Had a lesser actress been paired with Nucci, the opera would have been over at that point; one would have expected her merely to boot Germont from her house.I said that the performance's success is ALMOST exclusively attributable to Ms. Gheorghiu. One must recognize Sir Georg Solti's contribution as well. Had he driven the music harder or let it languish, all would have been lost. But his moderated reading is perfect. It is a true testament to his genius that one of the most renowned and dynamic conductors of all time could allow himself to be completely inconspicuous in the performance.EVERY lover of opera and anyone interested in exposing himself or herself to opera should own this disc. It will be a long time before it comes out of MY player."
Traviata = wonderful
Richard Askenase | Boston, MA United States | 01/06/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This gorgeous opera is given a wonderful treatment in this terrific DVD. Of course, the music is splendid- probably Verdi's most beautiful score. For me, the first act is the most perfect 30 minutes of music ever. And it gets its full due here.This is a filming of the Covent Garden, London show with the, then new, Angela Gheorghiu in 1994. Now she's a superstar.And this production is one of the reasons why. She is spectacular as the dying Violetta. Her tone, acting, and beauty make her unforgettable in this role. The rest of the cast is also fine. And it's hard to believe that this was the first time that the venerable George Solti had ever directed "La Traviata." That's amazing. And, of course, he is wonderful.As for the DVD itself, the sound (5.1) is perfect, and so is the filming of the production. The booklet has an OK essay, and a good synopsis of the opera. It also has a helpful listing of all chapters so you can find a specific place in the score. And, of course, sub-titles. No extra features, but you rarely find them on opera discs.All in all an excellent package. Give me more like this."
The Violetta is fabulous
F. Behrens | Keene, NH USA | 07/04/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"One of the seven operas on DVD released in June 2001 by Deutsche Grammophon is a (071 431-9) from a 1995 Covent Garden production. Here Georg Solti leads the Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House headed by Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu. Critic/commentator Albert Innaurato calls her "the most complete Violetta on video." Now he did not mean the best vocally or even physically or dramatically; but as a whole, she is the most satisfying. Where Stratas looks half dead throughout the Zeffirelli film and others simply look too healthy for Act III, Gheorghiu (who, by the way, never had sung this role before!) manages to look fragile at her own party, stunning all in black at Flora's, and "at death's door" in her squalid apartment, the walls of which seem to ascend forever toward heaven. Tenor Frank Lopardo has some sense of acting his part beyond generalized suffering and is in good voice. The only really jarring notes are the unpleasant makeup of Leo Nucci as the Father and his unpleasant voice, which did not seem to bother the appreciative audience that night. The Gypsy scene, for once, did not work too well, nor did the camping up of the Spanish number, unless one considers it part of the decadence of the world the heroine will soon be leaving. The scenery for the first act seemed unnecessarily cramped, a little rest area in Violetta's much larger home; but the unfinished state of the country home was just right. Were those pictures leaning against the wall waiting to be put up or taken away for sale? And the little swatches of wallpaper on the molding were a good touch. The shadows of the carnival revelers through the slats of the Act III scenery was also effective. Now and then, the voices would fade away as if too far from a microphone; and then the sound would swell up so suddenly that I kept diving for the volume control. Was this an engineering problem or did it sound like that in the theater? The audience is absolutely silent, keeping applause and cheers for the curtain calls. All things considered, this set is very worth having for the Violetta alone. The DVD runs 135 minutes in the 4:3 screen ratio with subtitles in English, French, German, and Chinese."
Magnificient production, both visually and sonically
atacgene | New York, NY USA | 07/19/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have been a fan of Gheorghiu since I heard her Verdi heroines. She is probably one of the best Verdians nowadays, singing with great drama and control as well as a beautifully seductive voice. In other words, technique and beauty (both physically and vocally) all in one. It is heaven to simply watch her beautiful face and eyes while listening to her flawless, espressive singing. Therefore this DVD is a must for all her fans and opera fans. The covent garden set is beautifully staged and singers acted very well for a live performance. Recording is superb considering it is a live recording with minimal coughs and other stage/audience noise (Actually one of the best, well balanced live recordings I've heard). Beautifully conducted by Solti, especially the prelude to Act III. The other casts are all excellent. Some may want a more lyrical tenor than Lopardo but he sang with great drama and expression. Nucci is warm and sympathetic. Gypsy dance was entertaining. Make-up is great in that Gheorghiu really looked anaemic in Act III. This is as great as live opera can get, especially when it is so well caught on film."
Top-rank stage production
SkookumPete | Canada | 07/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The only other DVD of the opera that I'm familiar with is Zeffirelli's movie version, which relies on cinematic effects as much as on the (heavily cut) score. There are no cinematic effects in this Solti version, but neither is it a "live" production -- clearly, it was taped without an audience and then shots of the Covent Garden crowd were spliced in. That's probably just as well, as we get a minimum of interruptions for applause, but be warned if you are expecting a truly spontaneous performance.
I can only echo what has already been said about Georghiu's performance. Unlike the vulnerable, barely-in-control Violetta of Teresa Stratas, she is a queen, commanding every scene she's in (which is most of them). She moves with graceful deliberation and sings with absolute authority. Lopardo is less persuasive as Alfredo -- maybe it's just that he squints too much to convince us that he's the ardent lover -- but the excellent overall direction masks any lack of acting skills. Indeed every bit of stage action in this performance seamlessly advances the story -- there is no sense, as there often is in opera, that the performers are being busy just for the sake of being busy.
It's a pleasure to be able to say that all this technical proficiency does not diminish the emotional impact of the production. Maybe it doesn't quite get the three-hankie rating of Zeffirelli's version, but it certainly gets two, and it perhaps earns them a little more honestly. "