"This live Lisbon performance was originally released in 1980; it was EMI's way of finally getting a Callas Traviata into their catalogues (there was never an EMI studio recording of the Callas Traviata). Now remastered, and in the new Callas Edition, the sound has been greatly improved, which is very fortunate, since this Traviata is quite good. Callas, a few strident top notes aside, is in great shape. Her final scene is enough to remind people why Callas was Callas. Alfredo Kraus, at the beginning of his career, sounds teriffic, and Mario Sereni is a certainly acceptable Germont. The conducting is not outstanding, but it suffices. The important thing here is that Callas' Violetta is here enshrined in a way that it can be heard and appreciated, in acceptable sound."
This recording started my love for opera
The Cultural Observer | 07/20/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the first opera recording I ever owned, and now the number of complete opera recordings I own totals over 100. After hearing and treasuring this recording, I bought every Maria Callas opera recording I could. With each recording I listened carefully and followed along with the libretto. The stories came alive for me mostly due to the passion and the expression I could hear in these Callas performances. Now, over 10 years later and having enjoyed many live opera seasons in San Francisco, I can look back at this recording with fondness. It opened a whole new world for me."
Listen to Act IV!
The Cultural Observer | 01/18/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"How she manages to convey Violetta's illness and despair by using vocal colours only... You can hear sobs from the audience... Simply gorgeous and beautiful! Also, in act III, the "Alfredo, Alfredo" using floating pianissimi... The most outstanding Violetta! But there are other great Traviatas too: The studio-rec with Moffo + the one with Sills."
The ONLY Other Traviata
The Cultural Observer | 05/01/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When people mention the opera La Traviata, this recording usually comes up first in the opera conoisseur's list of Traviatas for sound, quality, and cast. Violetta, being Maria Callas' favorite role after Norma, allows her to explore the intricacies of her voice along with her dramatic prowess on stage. Although you can listen to the great La Scala Traviata of 1955 (inarguably the year of her prime), this Traviata has a lot to offer which that Traviata won't. First of all, this recording boasts excellent sound, something which you can't get from the recordings of that period. Second, the cast here is stronger than that of the first recording. While Giuseppe di Stefano and Ettore Bastianini were great partners, and Giulini was a great Verdian conductor, Ghione was great it in his own respect. Plus, the sound is infinitely better. You can hear every detail of Maria's Violetta in this recording. Alfredo Kraus is a more graceful Alfredo, and I believe Mario Sereni as Giorgio Germont is amazing as well. Alfredo's voice is more ideal for the role of...Alfredo! Callas' feel for the role has also developed, and I think she gives a much better performance here than she did in La Scala, the lighter quality of her voice favored for Violetta's condition as a moribundo. And, Maria follows everything in the score while giving this a lot of dramatic truth. Maria can do a triple piano, something only VERY VERY FEW sopranos can do. She truly is the Violetta of this century. Listen to the letter scene and Addio del Passato, which I believe are the most heart-breaking versions of the aria and recitativo I've ever heard. There's no arguing here that Callas is Violetta. Lovely coloratura, amazing pianissimo, great interpretation, beautiful woman, great looks, great stage presence rolled in one amazing package. As for the music, Ghione conducts the performance wonderfully, although I still like Giulini's handling of Verdi's score. This is THE Traviata to own.
A treasured performance
Mark Hite | Columbus, OH | 02/01/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Those of us who first became acquainted with Maria Callas on LP will remember the frustration of there not being an EMI/Angel Callas Traviata. It was one of her greatest roles but was not recorded because of a contractual dispute with Cetra Records, who had recorded Callas' early go at the part. (Poor Antonietta Stella who DID make the EMI Traviata. Her recording became famous only for being the Traviata that Callas DIDN'T make.) Then, in 1980, there it was: Callas in Traviata on the ANGEL label! Filling that gap on the record shelf. It was a great thrill hard to imagine now that every note Callas ever taped is available everywhere.Oh, but then the performance..no EMI production here. It featured a laughably inept chorus, a rugged provincial orchestra and uninspired spporting cast. But all of this was swept aside by the go-for-broke intensity of Callas' Violetta. In the midst of all that mediocrity was this vivid prtrayal of the brave, angry, feverish Violetta created by Callas. An absolute treasure snatched from the mists of the recorded past.Now we also have the arguably superior La Scala performances, and even that old Cetra to complete our picture of Callas' Violetta. And the Lisbon itself is sounding much better (but, oddly, still, not available in the original stereo master recording from Portugese Radio). But, "Gran Dio!" nothing will erase the intensity of hearing this hair raising performance for the the first time. If you haven't heard it yet, don't wait.P.S. I don't know why some fans think that admiring one singer means that you have to "hate" another. Scotto, Cotrubas, Moffo, Caballe, Tebaldi, Sutherland, Sills, et al: They are all insanely gifted artists with something unique to tell us."