- La Traviata, opera
Casting two of opera's fastest-rising stars in La Traviata is a surefire way to attract attention, and so the pairing of Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón in the leading roles proved to be the hottest ticket of the 2005 Salzburg Festival. It was an occasion tailor-made for live recording, and just a few months later, we're lucky to have the results already in hand. Both vocally and dramatically, it's an excellent effort; above all, it's worth hearing for Villazón's Alfredo. This is the tenor's first starring role in a complete opera recording, and it's everything you would expect from hearing his two recital CDs. On those albums, Villazón showed a real dramatic gift on the concentrated level of the single aria, while here he holds our attention with a similar command across the length of a full opera, his richly hued voice reaching a series of expressive crests as the romantic plot develops. Netrebko is just as successful, and while she may not displace Angela Gheorghiu as the leading Violetta of recent years, she does deliver a deeply persuasive performance, from the sparkling "Sempre libera" of Act I to the resigned "Addio del passato" in Act III, and especially in the impassioned dialogue of Act II with Alfredo's father. (Thomas Hampson is quite satisfactory in the latter role here, but it's not his most distinguished performance; there's a cool solemnity to his singing, though the voice does sound marvelous.) The ensembles and choruses in the party scenes are exceptionally well balanced for a live recording, a tribute both to DG's engineers and to conductor Carlo Rizzi. But the strongly charismatic lead performances are the main attraction here, and Netrebko and Villazón are sure to please their fans -- and make many new ones -- with this release.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Verdi: La Traviata based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Opera, gratefully, more than any other music form gathers polarized opinions: some aficionados prefer the old recordings to the new, the 'big' singers to the physically beautiful one somehow postulating that if the singers look credible on stage they simply can't be equally fine as singers, the recordings or performances that rise or fall on the lead and the ensemble makes little impact. Not having been fortunate enough to have been one of the lucky ones that witnessed one of the seven sold out performances of this LA TRAVIATA at this year's Salzburg Festival, I am left only with a live recording probably garnered from several performances to catch a glimpse of what all the clamor from the European audiences was about. But this is enough to believe that this is probably one of the most intelligent and musically correct Traviatas available. Beginning with a sterling cast - the incomparably beautiful and musically gifted Anna Netrebko as Violetta, the equally handsome and gifted Rolando Villazon as Alfredo, and the always dashing and vocally distinguished Thomas Hampson as Germont - this is as credible as any Traviata staged. The staging in modern dress apparently worked in Salzburg but we have only a few photos in the 2 CD set to prove that. The orchestra is the venerable Vienna Philharmonic conducted by Carlo Rizzi, with no less than the Mozarteum Orchester providing the stage music. But the ingredients only serve as calling cards if the opera does not work as a whole, and here everything is in place. Anna Netrebko has a very rich lyric soprano voice and has an extraordinary range through which she sings most comfortably. If she does not opt for some of the high climax notes like say, Sutherland and the 'coloraturas', it does not impair the beauty of her interpretation of the beleaguered courtesan and her fall into consumption. But Netrebko is never less than lovely here and the drama of her voice and interpretation are exemplary. Likewise, Rolando Villazon has a tenor voice that grows better with each performance. His Alfredo is all impetuosity, smitten lover, and jealous stag - and his singing is stunningly beautiful. Add the exceptional musicality of Thomas Hampson singing Germont with complete conviction and elegance, and this cast is as fine as one could wish. If there are problems with this recording they are more focused on the podium where Rossi seems to favor brisk tempi a bit too frequently, not allowing the singers the space to be comfortable with their roulades. But remember this recording is from live performances and not a studio where every aria can be perfected with extra takes. This enhances the drama but does not give as sonorous a recorded sound as could be in a different hall or studio.The true beauty of this triumphant LA TRAVIATA will be obvious if a DVD of the performance is released. Rarely has a stage been filled with this much beauty of sound coming from such magnetic and attractive performers. Netrebko and Villazon have a wondrous magic as was so very obvious in this past season's LA Opera 'Romeo et Juliette' of Gounod. Let's hope they pair often! Highly recommended. Grady Harp
Ok, fine. I've not heard this cd, BUT...I saw Netrebko and Villazon live in Romeo and Juliet at the LA Opera, and those two just about busted my girdle. What a team. Magnificent. I give a PRE-review of 5 stars, because I can't imagine anything those two do, together or singly, as anything but magnificent. I also have single cds by both artists