I am a huge opera fan, and La Traviata has always been a big favourite and certainly in the top 5 of my favourite Verdi operas. When it comes to films/productions I prefer the 1982 and 1968 films and I also love the 1992(with Gruberova, Shicoff and Zancanaro) and 2006 productions.
What I love about La Traviata chiefly are the strongly defined characters, Violetta is a lead character that you will never forget, the heartfelt story and the magnificent music, although people will know Parigi O Cara, Brindisi, the act 1 & 3 prologues, Di Provenza and Sempre Libera, my favourites are Addio Del Passato and especially Ditta Alle Giuvine, and I love the finale to act 2 as well.
This Traviata is very good but not outstanding. I had no problem whatsoever with the more modernised costuming, Netrebko's red dress is stunning and she in it, and while the sets(of a sofa, chair and clock) are limited and not as sumptuous as I have known other Traviatas to be they are decent enough.
The orchestra are superb, playing with real musicality and pathos in the prologues, Ditta Alla Giuvine and Addio Del Passato and Brindisi and Sempre Libera are enough to raise the spirits. Carlo Rizzi's conducting is mostly solid, but the tempo of the final scene plods a little too much for my liking making Violetta's death not as moving as it could have been.
The chorus are very well balanced and animated, the sound is of good quality and the photography is great and serves the singers well particularly Netrebko whose looks show she was made to stand there in front of the camera. The support cast are fine, Flora especially is delightful.
The leads are superb. I am not a fan of Anna Netrebko or Rolando Villazon, though I have nothing really against them, but I do like Thomas Hampson quite a bit.
Anna Netrebko is much better than expected as Violetta. She is a stunningly beautiful woman, she is a good actress and she has a great voice, however her diction is less than perfect and I have had reservations about her colouratura before having never liked her high E flats, finding they sound almost a semitone too flat. However, her colouratura here is a little more secure, and she sings very musically and movingly.
I was also impressed with Rolando Villazon. Here he shys away from his manic Mr Bean-like persona and shows an Alfredo that is dashing, poignant and somewhat bitter too. He certainly looks the part, he does have an appealing tenor voice and his chemistry with Netrebko and his reaction to Violetta's death are genuine. He also sings Lunge Da Lei very well.
Thomas Hampson's Germont is sympathetic, stern, distinguished and even overbearing. His chemistry with Netrebko and Villazon is notable, he is a gifted actor, his Di Provenza is intelligently phrased and Ditta Alla Giuvine is for me one of this Traviata's highlights.
In conclusion, I really liked this Traviata but I wanted to love it more than I did. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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