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Genre: Classical Music
Media Format: Compact Disk
Release Date: 19-SEP-1995
Superb modern recording
dcreader | Washington DC area | 03/29/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although I have only listened to a few Traviatas, I believe this could stand up to the benchmark recordings such as Sutherland's. Angela Gheorghiu is a wonderful discovery! The pace is brisk where appropriate (such as the party scenes and the gypsy dance) but not "driven" in any way. One warning is that it is a live recording as the one reviewer who gave it three stars noted below. That's a valid point. Personally, I prefer a little stage noise and applause, because it reinforces the sense that you are actually at the opera (the performance at Covent Garden was completely sold out and considered to be a stunning triumph. I understand that tickets were all but impossible to get). Still, if you prefer studio recordings, it may be an issue."
Gheorghiu is the definitive Violetta of our time!
Ygor | Brazil | 07/11/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was so amazed when I first listened to this recording that I decided to buy the DVD, too. Surely it's one of the best recording that have been released in the last years and I doubt you can find a better digital version of La Traviata. If you don't care too much for the sound, we can find even greater advantages in listening to this recording: it was this live performance that led Angela Gheorghiu to the international operatic world, and here she's aided by a great cast under the direction of one of the greatest conductors of the 20th century, Sir Georg Solti.
Frank Lopardo is in very good shape. His voice is sometimes a bit nasal, but he has a quite big and dramatic voice as well as an excellent vocal technique. Besides, Lopardo's interpretation of Alfredo is convincing and involving: he's one of the few tenors that can sing this role while truly interpreting it. Thus, we have a much more than acceptable Alfredo. Leo Nucci is here a few years past his prime, but he's in real good voice, though in the higher parts his voice tends to have a little more vibrato than we're used to. He also delivers a mature characterization of Giorgio Germont. The minor parts are sung by equally good singers, so that we have a very balanced recording of La Traviata.
The real star of this La Traviata is the young Angela Gheorghiu. She's not a simple good soprano of our days, but surely she will be praised in the future as one of the greatest artists of our time. Her voice is rich, creamy and expressive, along with her remarkable pianissimi, vocal colours and melifluous tone. She has the right vocal technique to sing effortlessly the difficult aria "Sempre libera" (please don't expect to hear a new Sutherland!!). I really don't care if Gheorghiu doesn't fit the high E flat in the end of that aria, since Violetta is a much more complex role. What really matters is her expressiveness, the sense of drama. Gheorghiu is the best actress in the operatic scenery nowadays and a very creative artist. Her Violetta is the most dramatic and deeply involved since Maria Callas almost fifty years ago!
Sir Georg Solti was then conducting La Traviata for the first time, but we feel like he has conducted it all his life. His conducting is mature and passionated. It really seems that Solti got to understand what Verdi intended when he composed this music.
A popular opera like La Traviata has so many legendary recordings that it's almost impossible to declare what are the definitive one. So, I prefer to talk about the definitive ones, and it's certainly one of thoses, because it represents an important moment of the opera world: the rising of one of the greatest sopranos of our days and the first and probably last time one of the greatest conductors of the 20th century conducted La Traviata.
Buy this thrilling recording and enjoy one of the most moving operas ever composed!"
tmallon | Quakertown, PA United States | 02/13/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"No Verdi opera is so dependent on the dramatic conviction of its soprano. Supporting roles are extremely subject to what this lead had for lunch (as the premier performance of this opera proved). Verdi's Violetta demands a dramatic wrapper of strength about a frail woman with a fatal repertory illness (nice touch). Still, the composer was riding high after his successes with Rigoletto and Trovatore. He had the confidence and the libretto to make it work. Even if the opera had to be reworked, Verdi never lost confidence and finally found the right cast/ambiance to pull it all off.Little wonder, that Sir George insisted that EMI tape this live performance. This performance is a stunner! If Maria Callas were alive today she would murdered Gheorghiu (Verdi style, of course) for stealing a spotlight previously focus only on her achievement in this role. Never have I been so impressed by the unseen dramatics of a recording (of course, being live helped). The audience is first rate too, not one sneeze or cough is heard throughout (they only slipped a couple of times with applause...due cause).Frank Lopardo is a fine Alfredo and Leo Nucci above average as the not-good-enough-for-my-brat Germont. Nucci is pompous yet convincingly remorseful when it counts (pick up a box if tissues before putting this on). Velvety yet intense handling, Solti, a great conductor, outdoes himself with a Traviata superior to any this listener has heard. Thank you Georg, a "must own"!"
First Choice - Magnificent Recording!!
dcreader | 12/16/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have a similar experience as the reviewer below. La Traviata is one of Verdi's most famous and successful opera. But curiously, I have never been able to really appreciate Traviata on record (I have yet to see it 'live' at the opera house). Even after listening to the opera many times, I still found it mystical that La Traviata should be so famous. I prefer Verdi's Rigoletto, Il Trovatore, Aida, Don Carlos ....As many reviewers have noted (not only here but elsewhere), Sutherland is vocally spectacular. What a voice she had!!! I own many of her recordings and am always flabbergasted by her coloratura skills and her trills and spectacular high notes and breath control. But ohhhhhh ... in the slower passages especially, it is sometimes so painful - she has a beautiful voice but she moons a lot and there's no or little drama. What a pity she never pushed herself but I suppose that explains her vocal longevity. Callas is the other famous Violetta. Yes, Callas is very famous. It's Callas this and Callas that. Callas is best at this and best at that - Tosca, Turandot, Norma, Violetta. But oh... her best recordings are in mono!! Then of course, there is Cotrubas in Kleiber's recording in excellent stereo. So what's wrong with that one? I don't really know. I think it may have to do with the fact that it's too hard driven - Kleiber drives the party music very hard and he's rather mechanical and rigid. And the recording sounds rather harsh. Perhaps it is the conducting, perhaps it is the sounds engineers and the recording. Whatever the reason (which I can't quite pinpoint), that recording also never clicked for some reason even though I tried hearing it over and over again many times. So, like the reviewer below, I never really enjoyed this opera...until I heard Solti's recording!! What makes Solti's special? I think it is a confluence of many factors. First of all, the Decca digital sound is absolutely gorgeous and beautifully balanced. Voices and orchestra are all clear - not too close, not too far. The sound itself ravishes the senses. But sound alone is insufficient. Solti's conducting is also fantastic, helped by the superb playing of the orchestra. The orchestra is ravishing and tender where needed - listen to the opening of Act 1 and Act 3. Where needed, the orchestra is light, fast and deft - listen to the party music - it is light, fun and skips along with a lot of joy. At the climaxes, there is that "BANG!" that is superbly judged - not too bombastic, not too reticent. Then of course, there is Gheorghiu herself. her voice is not as beautiful as some people make it out to be. It DEFINITELY IS beautiful. But not in the class of say, Renee Fleming or even Karita Mattila both of whom I think have more beautiful voices than Gheorghiu in this Traviata. Nevertheless, Gheorghiu's voice IS VERY BEAUTIFUL and makes you want to listen to her again and again. Her coloratura is not perfect either. Cotrubas has better coloratura. But whatever, Gheorghiu is still superb and her vocal acting is so good that you just overlook her faults. Frank Lopardo is the other magnificent singer. I actually prefer Lopardo to Domingo in Kleiber's recording. Maybe it has to do with the recording rather than the singer. But I actually find Lopardo's singing more magnetic - more passionate and more memorable. Nucci is excellent as Germont. Not voiceless as some mean guy has said. Added to this is the fact that this is a live recording with all the 'live' atmosphere that is so hard to define. The record is, how should I say, "living"?The end result is that the sum adds up to much more than its parts. Golden age of singing over? No!!!! Perhaps there is a lack of successor to Nilsson and Sutherland. But otherwise, there are still lots of outstanding opera singers around. Only narrow minded people who are not willing to accept the varying interpretations of singers would live in a world in which the golden age of singing is over. For people like me, there are still lots of singers around who can rival opera singers of yesteryears.Conclusion: My personal judgement is that this is the best La Traviata around on the market and I strongly recommend it to anyone as a first choice or as a sole representation of the work in your collection."
A Great La Traviata
dcreader | 12/14/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This La Traviata is destined to become a "Great Recordings of the Century" in time to come. It is superbly conducted and "alive" - not surprisingly since this was recorded "live" at Convent Garden in 1994. It is incredible how Decca's engineer can record "live" opera at Convent Garden to such stunning effect. I mean the sound is absolutely fabulous - definitely among Decca's best digital sound quality. Decca's engineers truly live up to their legendary reputation. The greatest star of this La Traviata is without doubt Georg Solti - the infectious rhythms in Traviata comes through thrillingly in this recording and Solti's conducting is deft and full of tenderness with ample "punch" where required. You would be surprised that this was the conductor who 40 years ago conducted the legendary Decca Ring cycle. Angela Gheorghiu is the other star. She produces glorious and beautiful tone for Violetta. There is emotion in her singing and she doesn't overdo things. She is destined to become a great Verdi singer. Frank Lopardo also sings Alfredo's music wonderfully. His lyrical tenor voice is rich and beautiful with enough power where required. As he said so himself, even though he could "push" his voice and take on heavier roles, he has chosen to stick to lighter roles. I think that this policy has served him well in preserving his voice, which is rich, lyrical and beautiful. Nucci as Germont sings beautifully too. I love his voice and I feel that some reviewers have been too mean to him.All in all, this is a glorious achievement from the then 82 years old Solti, conducting La Traviata for the first time in his life. But he conducts as if he's conducted La traviata all his life!!! I think this Traviata stands up to the best Traviatas in the market. Can it stand its own against Carlos Kleiber's famous set? Yes!! Carlos Kleiber is in fact too violent at times and rather mechanical in his approach. Does it stand up to Sutherland's Violetta? You bet!! Of course, Gheorghiu cannot match Sutherlands coloratura but I think Gheorghiu is better at characterization and definitely sings with more personality in it. Solti fans need not hesitate. Non-Solti fans - well, you needn't hesitate either."