The Metropolitan Opera HD Live: Season 3, Episode 1

Opening Night Gala Starring Renée Fleming (22 Sep. 2008)

TV Episode  -  Music
8.2
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Keeping with a long-standing tradition, Renee Fleming kicks off the new season at the Met with scenes from Verdi's Traviata, Massenet's Manon, and Strauss' Capriccio. She is joined by Ramon Vargas and Thomas Hampson.

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Title: Opening Night Gala Starring Renée Fleming (22 Sep 2008)

Opening Night Gala Starring Renée Fleming (22 Sep 2008) on IMDb 8.2/10

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Cast

Episode credited cast:
...
Violetta / Manon / Countess
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Marco Armiliato ...
Himself - Conductor: 'Manon'
Griff Braun ...
Dancers - La Traviata: Act II
Dwayne Croft ...
Kathryn Day ...
Annina - La Traviata: Act II
Michael Devlin ...
Major-Domo - Capriccio: Final Scene
Sara Erde ...
Dancers - La Traviata: Act II
Thomas Hampson ...
Germont
John Hancock ...
Baron Douphol - La Travitata: Act II / De Brétigny - Manon: Act III
Theodora Hanslowe ...
Flora - La Traviata: Act II
...
Himself - 'La Traviata' conducted by
Robert Lloyd ...
Christine McMillan ...
Dancers - La Traviata: Act II
Louis Otey ...
Marquis d'Obigny - La Traviata: Act II
Paul Plishka ...
Doctor Grenvil - La Traviata: Act II
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Storyline

Keeping with a long-standing tradition, Renee Fleming kicks off the new season at the Met with scenes from Verdi's Traviata, Massenet's Manon, and Strauss' Capriccio. She is joined by Ramon Vargas and Thomas Hampson.

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Music

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Details

Release Date:

22 September 2008 (USA)  »

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Soundtracks

La Traviata, Act II
Music by Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave
Conducted by James Levine
Performed by Renée Fleming, Ramón Vargas, Thomas Hampson
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User Reviews

 
Renee Fleming steals the show in three of her best and most favourite roles
31 January 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I saw Opening Night Gala Starring Renee Fleming as a life-long fan of opera, someone who generally enjoys the productions and concerts from the Met and who likes Renee Fleming and her creamy voice. Opening Night Gala... is really a magical night, the music is sublime, it looks wonderful and while she is supported solidly by all involved Fleming is the one who steals the show in three of her best and most favourite roles, Violetta from Verdi's La Traviata, Manon from Massenet's Manon and the Countess from Richard Strauss' Capriccio. The telecast looks fantastic for starters. The costumes are sumptuous especially Fleming's black dress performing the final scene of Capriccio, and the settings are truly beautiful though Zeffirelli's Traviata set could be seen as dated, very reminiscent of the look of his 1982 film, one of my favourites just for the record. The High Definition is consistently very good, with clear sound and picture quality and the camera work doing everybody and everything favours.

Susan Graham and Deborah Voight host with interest and clarity, while I cannot fault Opening Night Gala... musically. The orchestra are superb throughout, I think they are at their best during Capriccio. The chorus are excellent in Act 2 Scene 2 of La Traviata, and the staging likewise with the most impressive being in the Cours-La-Raine scene from Manon, which is nothing short of spectacular. The three conductors, James Levine, Marco Armiliato and Patrick Summers keep things afloat. Armiliato's conducting for Manon is for me the most consistent, and Levine with Traviata keeps things brisk but the surprise was Summers for Capriccio, I found with his reading of the Met production of Madama Butterfly that his conducting should've had more subtlety, subtlety here there is which is perfect for the long phrasing and soaring melodic lines that are so typical of Strauss.

Opening Night Gala... starts off with two scenes from act 2 of La Traviata, my personal favourite overall of the operas featured. Zeffirelli makes a seamless transition from Violetta's country house to the Parisian mansion, and while the production may look slightly dated it still has a very sumptuous look to it. Fleming looks lovely in her two costumes, and this is the perfect act from the opera to show off her creamy voice and sincere acting. The support cast are good too. Ramon Vargas is dashing and very believable as Alfredo, though Thomas Hampson isn't quite so good as Germont. His singing is very good with a nice timbre and good musicality and phrasing, perhaps the Verdi baritone role that suits his voice the most, but his acting is wooden with not much of the stern and sympathetic quality of the role coming through.

Next are two scenes from Act 3 of Massenet's Manon, as much as I love Puccini's Manon Lescaut I find Massenet's more plausible in terms of the story. The better of the two is the Cours-La-Raine scene, which is spectacular both in music and performance. It also features Fleming's wonderful and agile rendition of Manon's Gavotte. This said, the intense and dramatic in a searing sense St Sulpice scene is every bit as great. The costume and set designs are a little better than that of the Traviata segment, still sumptuous but more up to date without meaning contemporary. Fleming is superb in one of her signature roles, it is a moving performance and the singing is beautiful and musical. Vargas assumes the role of Des Grieux and he sings with ringing tone and he is ardent. Dwayne Croft is an amusing and nuanced Lescaut, and while his singing is not as powerful as it once was Robert Lloyd makes for a sympathetic Comte Des Grieux.

Finishing the telecast is the final scene of Capriccio, and while I did really liked Traviata and loved Manon, the Capriccio segment was in the best of the three. It looks beautiful, and Strauss' transcendent music is performed in a controlled and subtle manner. Fleming takes centre stage and this is one of my favourite ever performances of hers. She looks stunning in her best costume of the telecast where she is clad entirely in black, and her voice positively soars above the orchestra, which is exactly what should happen singing Strauss. Overall, while looking beautiful, as good the support cast is and as magnificent the music is, Opening Night Gala Starring Renee Fleming is Fleming's show. She really throws herself into all three roles and as always sings absolutely beautifully. The telecast itself is a must see and is almost perfect. 9/10 Bethany Cox


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