A fascinating production of La Traviata formed this year's opera highlight at one of Europe's most important open-air festivals: the Opera Festival St. Margarethen. The dazzling production,...
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A fascinating production of La Traviata formed this year's opera highlight at one of Europe's most important open-air festivals: the Opera Festival St. Margarethen. The dazzling production, set in a rustically romantic Roman quarry, already boasts 100,000 visitors this season. Recorded live in July 2008, this video captures the beauty of the open-air production. Stage designer Manfred Waba sets the tragic story about the demi-mondaine Violetta Valéry and her admirer Alfredo Germont in an evocative replica of the Parisian Opéra Garnier. His and Robert Herzl's unique interpretation is intelligent and effective. In the lead roles, Austria's promising opera talent Kristiane Kaiser and Jean-François Borras, a young French tenor, provide for a musically and visually attractive viewing. Written by
La Traviata is in the top 5 of my favourite Verdi operas along with Don Carlo, Otello, Aida and Rigoletto. The story is compelling yet quite tragic, it never fails to bring tears to my eyes at the end, the characters are vivid and the music, my favourite being the act 2 duet Ditta Alla Giovine which I feel is the heart of that act, is just amazing.
While not my favourite production, that's the 1982 Zeffirelli film and the one with Anna Moffo in the title role from the late 60s, this 1973 production is just lovely. The costumes and sets are of lavish quality complete with excellent video directing and sound, while the orchestra are play with emotion and precision and the conducting is genteel without being too subdued.
The performances are excellent. Jose Carreras was a tenor I was familiar with only by reputation but hadn't heard enough of his voice to judge. Seeing more of him over the years, and I am starting to quite like him. He has a lovely voice and is dashing on stage, while I am not the biggest fan of his acting finding him stolid at times he isn't a complete blank either. All of these, except his acting is very reasonable with his reaction in the final scene quite genuine, are here with his performance as Alfredo.
I cannot begin to describe how wonderful Renata Scotto was as Violetta. She sings beautifully with a colouratura ability that still appeals and striking musicality, her pianissimos in Ditta Alla Giovine and Addio Del Passato are both beautiful and intense, and not only that she is a brilliant actress her acting in the final scene alone was enough to reduce me to tears.
Sesto Bruscantini, who specialised in Mozart and Rossini before singing Verdi, is a very solid Germont. His acting is distinguished and sympathetic and while quite dry in the basic sound he does sing with musicianship and expression. Ditta Alla Giovine was sublime, and on the whole Di Provenza with a nice approach to the phrasing was as well if perhaps in need of a little more delicacy and the passaggio was a little throaty.
The chorus do a great job as well, as do the other performers in significant but smaller roles. All in all, a lovely production. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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