La Traviata stands or falls on its lead singers and in Norah Amsellem and Rolando Villazon this 2005 Salzburg Festival performance has a pair whose electric interactions and brilliant singing are irresistible. If Amsellem can't quite provide the vocal bloom of the great Violettas of the past, hers is a lovely voice used with intelligence and dramatic intensity and she has the coloratura chops to deliver her Act I showpieces with flair. Villazon's tenor has ping on top, terrific color, and an impressive range of rubato, dynamic shadings, and interesting phrasing that makes Alfredo's music sound newly minted. The Germont is Thomas Hampson, no Verdi baritone but an astute singer and actor. Chorus and smaller roles are fine, the orchestra first-rate. Carlo Rizzi has odd notions about the music (usually too fast, sometimes way too slow) but this Traviata triumphs despite his conducting.
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Referenced in Revealed: Anna Netrebko