Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Jeffrey Wells, Giuseppe Verdi, James Levine|
Verdi: La Traviata
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The more you know, the more you will like this set
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 10/04/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I find quite a few novice reviewers weighing in here. To denigrate a major artist like Pavarotti or Studer in favor of the workmanlike Juan Pons--a pet baritone of Levien's at the Met who won neither renown nor critical admiration anywhere else--is silly. The real question is how a fine La Traviata with great singers and a major conductor fits into the overall picture of this oprea on disc.
The classic 1950s versions with Callas, form Lisbon and La Scala on EMi, are in antiquated radio air checks with a dreadful orchestra in the Lisbon case, matched by a very feeble Germont in Sereni and an intrusive stage prompter talking over the singers. La Scala has a better cast but many defects in the sound, including dorpouts into near unintelligibility. In both cases the whole show is Callas, although Giulini is a major asset on the La Scala version, and some critics hail Kraus in the Lisbon set.
Among modern recordings we have one outright winner, the Kleiber performance on DG with Domingo at his best and a very affecting Ileana Cotrubas as Violetta. Kleiber rides the score hard at times, and Sherril Milnes, as usual, tends to shout as the elder Germont. But these are quibbles considering the overall musicality being displayed in every scene.
Overall musicality and drama are important. You can't have an outstanding La Traviata just b getting together some good vocalists. Which is why Pavarotti's earlier set on Decca was so disappointing. Leaving aside that Sutherland sounds a bit mature for the role, and that she enunciates Italian horribly, the combination of her voice and Pavarotti's is spectacular. But then you have the woefully routine conducting of Bonynge. On the Caballe set you get another bad conductor, on the Muti set you get the whole score without cuts but a very wobbly, squally Scotto and the dried-up tenor of the aging Alfredo Kraus.
It's not a perfoect world, and once you summarize all the pluses and minuses, this 1992 set under Levine looks better and better. Studer has all it takes to make Violetta musically and dramaticaly convincing. I am not concerned about vocal slips here and there. Pavarotti is in very good voice for his age, and Alfredo suits that voice perfeclty. He is a model of musicianship and perfect enunciation. Pons is adequate but no better. Levine conducts from the inside, with real understanding and emotion. Altogether, this is the best La Traviata on disc since the Kleiber recording--I for one am very grateful it came along."
Laura | NH, NY | 03/29/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just bought this CD... and it is FANTASTIC. Please buy it, the singing is gorgeous, the acting is superb, and the orchestra is just.. spot on. I recommend this recording over all others of Traviata, and I have heard quite a few."
Pons shines, but Pav and Studer disappoint
C. S. Adams | Asbury Park, NJ | 02/07/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"While DG casts three superstars on this recording, Juan Pons is the only one who really shines here. His full bodied baritone voice is moving and penetrating. In Act I, Studer sounds awkward and uncomfortabe with her vocal lines and one hears how difficult the two colortura arias "Ah forse liu" and "Sempre Libre" really are. Pavarotti truly has a sense for Verdi, for the role and the language. But this recording reveals a lot of technical flaws in his voice that I have not heard any where else. While I don't have an alternate recommendation for this Traviata, if you want an excellent recording of Studer singing Verdi, I highly recommend the DG recording of Othello (with Domingo & Leiferkus) as one of the very best opera recordings out there."