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Chorus of the Staatskapelle Berlin,
First off, I am glad I watched this production of La Traviata. As long as the performers can carry a tune better than Rosie O'Donnell it is hard to not be moved by such a masterpiece.
And I'm always open to updating productions or remaking classic movies. While some like the original, the Bogart Maltese Falcon is my favorite. I also enjoyed the Mitchum Farewell My Lovely more than the original but not Mitchum's remake of The Big Sleep. But just because an epic work is modernized does not make it improved. Different is not always better.
I understand what the idea was to strip the set of almost all fixtures and make a giant clock the focal point of the stage. But for me it detracts from what the leads are doing. The clock beats us over the head about the theme of Violetta's descent. Anyone that has a passing knowledge of Traviata knows the story and doesn't need a giant clock to know how the story ends. The set seems like something made to impress a bunch of grad school dropouts that meet every evening at the local Starbucks.
I think it was in Gatsby where someone says they always feel more alone in a big crowd. Here, even in her red dress, Violetta seems lost among the mask wearing men at the party. Violetta has to dominate any production of La Traviata and here she seems reduced and trivialized.
That said, Netrebko is a very good Violetta. Her arias at the end of the first act are a highlight of any Traviata and Netrbko doesn't disappoint.
Rolando Villazon turns in the best performance, going from the high of endless devotion to bitter scorn and back to deep love for Violetta.
But I had a hard time ignoring the huge, stark set and when you have singers like Netrebko and Villazon there is no need to upstage their voices.
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