"There are many fine Traviatas out there (Callas, 2 by Sutherland, Caballe, Cortubas, and the like), but I feel this one is the best of the lot. Beverly Sills is extremely fresh voiced here and delivers her arias with freshness and aplomb. Her "Sempre Libera " is simply breathtaking. Her colleagues here are also unsurpassed. Nicolai Gedda is magnigicent here,offering just the right amout of lyricism and passion to the role of Alfredo (even demonstrating an incredible High C at the end of his caballetta "Oh mio rimorso! Oh, infamia!"). Gedda is my favorite of any of the recorded Alfredos. Rolando Panerai is probably the finest Germont the elder I have ever heard. His "Di Provenza Il Mar, Il Suol" will literally tear at your heartstrings and this reviewer has never heard a finer rendition since the American Baritone Lawrence Tibbett. Aldo Ceccato is the conductor here and does a very fine job indeed. If you want to hear La Traviata the way it should be performed, treat yourself to this recording."
La Traviata Heaven: The Greatest Recording
Rudy Avila | Lennox, Ca United States | 05/01/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Verdi's La Traviata is to many the definition of romantic opera. It's about tragic love, it's Verdi's most intimate and most personal opera. Verdi at the time was living unmarried with his lover and soon to be wife Giuseppina Strepponi, an opera singer. The music attests to the heartache and the passion that composes the bulk of the opera. On this recording, Beverly Sills sings the role of Violetta Valery and tenor Nicolai Gedda is Alfredo. Violetta and Alfredo are opera's most memorable lovers. Gedda and Sills both possess a charming, beautiful voice perfectly suited for the gentle lovers. This recording is from the 70's. Beverly Sills had sung Violetta Valery more than 50 times and it was her first starring role. She knew the part like the palm of her hand. Her beautiful humanity in her voice alone presents us with the real Violetta- the noble courtesan/prostitute of Paris nightlife who sacrifices her own happiness for the sake of Alfredo's father. Beverly Sills has a "French voice" - her greatest vocal gift was to sing lengthy sustained melody and to dazzle the human ear with coloratura agility and high notes. But her Italian is nothing to laugh at. Her Italian is superb, especially in the bel canto category. As Violetta, she is the best. Her Act 1 highlights include the Brindisi (I have never heard any soprano, including Callas and Sutherland) sing it as "right" as Beverly Sills does it, and her solo showcase "A Fors E Lui" and the coloratura fireworks of "Sempre Libera". Beverly Sills is simply amazing, especially when she tops off the aria with that high note. The lyrical melancholy of the duet with baritone Roland Panerai, perfectly paired also, is excellent to hear. The finale is going to move you to tears from the "Addio Del Passato" to her dying exclamation "O Gioa!". This is the greatest ever made and I don't care that most will always flock to the Sutherland and Callas recordings. To my mind, it's not necessary to have a bigger voice or a diva status to be Violetta. Beverly Sills may not have been a diva, but she was the greatest actress of the opera in a way where most sopranos fail- connection with the audience and a spiritual relationship with the music."
She's no Callas--and I mean that as a compliment.
Judy Gates | Rumford. RI | 02/17/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love Callas, but sometimes I just don't feel like being a masochist. In roles that fall within her more limited range, Beverly Sills is every bit as penetrating an actress as Callas, with a security in the top notes that is among the most dazzling on record. Sills' Violetta lives and dies with infinite dignity, nobility, and yearning. Her death is credible and tragic, with the voice used to SUGGEST disease rather than falling victim to it. I hope, as the Callas re-issue frenzy peaks, that Sills will soon be represented more completely on disc.As Alfredo, Gedda is also immensely appealing, but with a sweetness of tone that may be just a little too generous for the character. It was perfect for his glorious recording of Manon, also with Sills. Panerai's voice is impressive in tone, but pretty inflexible in characterization. It grew on me, however, as a foil to Sills' Violetta. This is a wonderful recording and a great performance."
Rudy Avila | 10/26/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Fine, very much underrated recording. With vivid, crisp, well-remastered sound and very generous cueing, it makes an excellent, all around bargain. The text is absolutedly complete (cabalette are repeated twice, as marked in the score). Sills' reedy voice can be an acquiered taste but her interpretation of this doomed character is most moving. Gedda is a model of taste who does not lack fire and flair (his rendition of the often-omitted "o mio rimorso" is one of the best on records). Panerai sings well, if not as imaginatively as Sills. Ceccato is an efficient, unmannered conductor who does not get in the way of the singers. Italian & English Libretto included."
You've Tried The Rest, Now Try The Best!!...
Rudy Avila | 12/14/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My fellow reviewers have passed good judgement on this particular recording of Verdi's La Traviata and agree that there is no finer interpretation. One can always make an argument. There is always the Maria Callas crowd, the hype surrounding her 50's performance in which she moved audiences to tears in her acting abilities as well as in-depth emotional characterization of Violetta Valery. There is no questioning Callas' dramatic prowess. She could have made a great Hollywood actress had she not prefered singing opera
There is also the pleasure listeners say they feel when they hear Anna Moffo, Joan Sutherland, Ileana Contrubas, Renee Fleming and most recently, Angela Gheorghiu. Violetta, is of course, the hottest and most standard soprano role to perform. What soprano would not want to debut at the Met as Violetta Valery ? But PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THE NEXT ANALYSIS (eventhough you are likely to suspect that I'm an avid Beverly Sills fan). Beverly Sills sang the role in the same time frame as when her contemporary Maria Callas was singing this (50's, 60's) and is genuinely at paar with Callas in acting talent and artistic inflection. No other soprano knew the role better than Beverly Sills. She performed the role 54 times in the course of 63 days, each performance a knock-out crowd pleaser. Her portrayal of Violetta in this recording in 1971 has her at the zenith of her career (there is also another recording with the same conductor and cast available through Black Dog Opera Library in the format of book with illustrations and two cd's). Next to Nicolai Gedda's passionate, but not stuffy, sophisticated portrayal as Alfredo (second only in greatness to Placido Domingo ) she sings masterfully in the Brindisi and duet "Un Di Felice". Note how she has an operetta heroine's charm and bubbly festive persona in all her lines in Act 1, including "Lo voglio! Al Piacer M'Affido Io Sol con tal farmaco i mali sopir !" how lyrical and melodiously (like a French singer would) she sings "A Fors E Lui" and how she masters the coloratura caballeta Sempre Libera, which she embellishes and ends with a dramatic high E flat note over a high C. In the long scene of her duet with Germont, she is moving as a woman in love and willing to sacrifice for that love, touching in her vocal lines in the aria "Ditte A La Giovine", and dramatic in "Morro! La Mia Memoria". Finally, in the last two acts, she is convincing as a woman who is genuinely impassioned and frightened for the plight of Alfredo during the party scene, particularily striking in the confrontation with Alfredo: Invitato A Qui Seguirmi !Her voice raises as beautifully as a fountain in her lines Alfredo, Alfredo" in " Di Questo Core Tu Non Conosce", which follows a great closing ensemble. Finally, in the last act, she is fragile, deteriorating and fighting for her last breath to live happily with Alfredo and above all, a great dying scene. She sings Addio Del Passato like no other. Beverly Sills claims she would always practice this aria to keep her bel canto legato lines in good condition. The duet Parigi O Cara is well made and her "Gran Dio Morir Si Giovine " sensational. Her dying scene, from her lines "Ascolta, Amado Alfredo" to the final exclamation "O gioa!" are unsurpassed by any modern soprano to this day. Roland Panerai is unquestionably the best Germont and Aldo Ceccato orchestrates a poignant score, embellished with a European elegance and dramatic intensity when required. The chorus, led by John Alldis, is impressive, especially in "Si Ridesta in ciel L'Aurora", although the Jon Alldyis choir sounds remarkable in every opera they do. Buy this La Traviata please! It's not very talked about. That's why it's so great."