Robert G. VanStryland | Denton, TX USA | 08/20/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film looks beautiful and the performances by Domingo and Stratas are wonderful (although she is not in her best voice). James Levine's conducting and the playing of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra are as good as you can hear anywhere. The ballet is spectacular. But Zeffirelli cuts away at least one-fourth of the score. He (and many other film makers who have made movies of operas) just doesn't seem to understand that a film of an opera is not an adaptation; it is a performance of that opera using a different medium. An opera is a musical composition; therefore, a film of an opera is a musical performance of a music drama. The film medium frees the visual presentation from the limitations of the stage, but the musical presentation is the essence of the opera and must not be compromised regardless of the medium. Some of Zeffirelli's cuts must infuriate any lover of opera. For example, when Giorgio departs from Violetta after she has promised to leave Alfredo, Zeffirelli cuts some of the "addio"s, saving just a few seconds but destroying the end of the scene. If the opera is more important to you than the cinematography, you may want to buy the DVD starring Angela Gheorghiu and Frank Lopardo, conducted by the late Georg Solti."
Another Zeffirelli grand production
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 10/07/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
""La Traviata" is undoubtedly Verdi's loveliest and most romantic opera, with no subplots to detract from the ill-fated love of Violetta and Alfredo, and the melodies are sublime and plentiful. Though as a rule I prefer a stage production to an "opera film", because the vocals usually have less passion to them, and the lip-synching is often noticeable, "La Traviata" is ideally suited to director Zeffirelli's lavish style of sumptuous ornate sets and beautiful outdoor settings, making this an opera that would be enjoyed by those who are either unfamiliar with, or don't particularly like opera, as well as the aficionados.
Teresa Stratas is a delicate, wonderful Violetta, with her huge eyes and petite stature assets for the part of the ailing heroine, and Placido Domingo, with beard and tousled hair, is fabulous as Alfredo, a part that is surely one of the most naïve and foolish of heroes, but blessed with marvelous music to sing. James Levine conducts with good pacing, and Cornell MacNeil makes an excellent Papa Germont. A special treat for ballet fans is the performance by the exquisite Russian ballerina Ekaterina Maximova, and her husband, the great Vladimir Vasiliev, as the Spanish matador dancers; The choreography is by Alberto Testa, and includes Gabriella Borni as the gypsy dancer. This Second Act scene, with the "Noi siamo zingarelle" and "Di Madride noi siam mattadori" is some of the most delightful music in the opera, and it is marvelous to see it danced so well.
The DVD extras are supposed to be: Production notes, Cast/filmmakers' bios, Film highlights, Theatrical trailer, and web links, but my disc did not display options, so was obviously defective; I would have loved to have removed the captions and subtitles, which is also an option, as well as being able to have subtitles in French. A sublime opera with a terrific cast, this is very satisfying viewing and listening, even for "stage production" fanatics like me. Total playing time is 1 hour and 45 minutes. "
Joseph Hart | Visalia, CA United States | 05/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I loved this film. Only about 20 minutes were excised from the score, it was nearly complete. At greater length in the other reviews can be read descriptions of the ballet, breathtakingly beautiful scenery, particularly effective arias. Domingo and Stratas were wonderful. I have Stratas in Boheme on DVD (to replace my original VHS), it made me cry. Traviata made me cry. Can you call anything so painful beautiful? The music was of course glorious. The principals acted and sang to perfection, and of course frail diminutive Stratas looked the part. The movie began interesting, then became wonderful at the first party with the drinking song, then lost interest for me for some time, then picked up again and never let up. The camera-work and crowd scenes were brilliantly done. (I don't like to use the word "brilliant" because it sounds so affected, but I will.) I resent the reviews that call this a good introduction to opera, as though it were somehow inferior to "real opera," I find it condescending, supercilious, pompous and demeaning. However, I gave a copy of the movie to a close friend of mine who also cried, watched it twice and loved it, and this was I think her first opera. It is very beautiful music, well-acted, well-directed, well-sung and with scenery beyond belief."
Though Not Perfect, A Good Introduction To Opera
Joseph Hart | 12/14/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"That should sum up the schism viewers have for Zefferelli's opera film starring Placido Domigo and Teresa Stratas. There is no question about the supremacy of the film visually. The famous Italian director has made excellent, quality drama and opera as film in the 60's, 70's and 80's; among them the 1968 Romeo and Juliet, Verdi's Othello (also with Domingo) and the 1991 Hamlet starring Mel Gibson. Zefferelli lavishes his films with artistry and lush photography, especially striking are his sweeping locales and precise camerawork. For Verdi's tragic romance, he has selected a fine location that is meant to resemble the French countryside, luxurious interior "ballroom" scenes, effective lighting and contrast, and actors and actresses that look the part. Vocally speaking, the only reason you should get this opera is the tremendous talent of Placido Domingo. He is the equivalent of Enrico Caruso for the twentieth century, an incarnation of the master, appearing handsome and earthy, as well as singing and acting his roles as any Hollywood star would approach the role (could they sing opera that is ). As the lovestruck Alfredo, his arias are striking and reveal great character, especially his "Un Di Felice", his "De Mei Bolenti Spiriti" "O Mio Rimorso" and his final duet "Parigi O Cara". Teresa Stratas looks the part, she is pale and delicate, exotically beautiful as the dying courtesan Violetta. But she has vocal limitations, especially in the higher registers. She has no warmth to her voice and has rather limpid, straightforward vocal lines. The role of Violetta is not an easy role for most sopranos- the heroine must sing most of the time in the course of three acts, and each characterization differs from the other- in Act I she is a flirtatious, bubbly and charming, even operetta-like heroine where her aria "Sempre Libera" demands coloratura fireworks, and her cavatina "A Fors E Lui" requires mellow lyricism. This same type of lyricism, although sung to serve the theme of pathos and dramatic suffering, should be very clear through her duet with Germont in Act 2. These are the arias "Non Sepete" "Ditte A La Giovine" and "Morro La Mia Memoria". In Act 3, she must convey her immediate situation, she is dying and taking her last breath, urges Alfredo to remember her name and to remarry, consuming the audience with the portrayal that although she has been a glittering, amoral prostitute, she will die with God's forgiveness and the joy of having fallen deeply in love. Though vocally this is not the best La Traviata, this is certainly a good introduction to opera. If you watch this film, you might be tempted to see a performance of La Traviata. For recordings of this classic masterpiece, you should go for your favorite soprano. Most go for Maria Callas and Joan Sutherland. I went for Beverly Sills, who sang the role a record 54 times in the space of 63 days, (no one but Sills could ever know the role of Violetta Valery) and who truly masters the role with dramatic, artistic value and sheer, tonal and vocal beauty. All in all, this is still a good film, despite the negative comments below my review."
Steve Perlowski | Des Moines, IA | 05/23/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is still the best dvd version of Traviata on the market. I own five others, including, Netrebko, Fleming, and two with Gheorghiu, but none of those versions (which certainly have their strengths, both technically, and vocally) express the full gamut of the emotional power and the pathos that is at the heart of this great opera-tragedy. It's all here: Stratas, Domingo, and Macneil singing and acting wonderfully; Zeffirelli's opulent movie staging, and Verdi himself seems to be guiding James Levine's baton.
This dvd version of La Traviata (theatrically released in 1982) is obviously meant to replace the above-listed 1999 dvd version. There are some distinctions, however, and they are not unimportant. For one, the sound has been improved. Two, the 1999 version was shown in widescreen (1.66:1), this one is fullscreen (1.33:1); it appears to me that the film was originally filmed in fullscreen and then clipped on the top and the bottom to properly fill a widescreen commercial movie screen (I've read that some directors like to shoot their films this way, and Zeffirelli must be one of them). Be that as it may, a bit of the right and left edges of the 1999 film are cut off here, but there is more top and bottom displayed in this new version [so, we're actually seeing a little more of the original film, but--paradoxically--in a smaller area (4:3)]. Three, the ridiculous [bracketed] closed captions, indicating "[laughter], [music playing], [finale], etc." have mercifully been eliminated from this new version.
On the negative side: even though the picture quality of this new version seems a little better than the widescreen version, it will never (ever) be mistaken for blu-ray, and two, there are (as with the 1999 version) some lip-syncing issues. Lastly, although I think that this fullscreen version is slightly superior to the 1999 version, there is definitely something to be said for watching a film that fills your widescreen TV. Enjoy!
UPDATE (6-27-2010): I notice that both of these versions have become very expensive on Amazon, but I checked at Amazon UK and discovered that the 2007 version could still be purchased for a very reasonable price; it might be available at Amazon Canada, too."