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Together with her stage partner Rolando Villazon, Anna Netrebko captivated the world of opera with sensational performances in the Salzburg Festival's production of La Traviata. Over 1.5 million viewers in Austria and Germany watched the TV broadcast of La Traviata's premiere in August 2005.
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It's no secret that DG skillfully exploits operating partnerships. And it's okay, when we're talking about Netrebko and Villazon. I must say they sound wonderful together. Villazon's tenor is decidedly masculine, there isn't a trace of tender-cherubic cuteness, it's a voice most readily resembling Placido Domingo's, if a size smaller. By the way, smaller voices aren't problematic, they're actually more "phonogenic" so to speak. An interesting piece of trivia: the optional high note at the end of "O mio remorso" somehow sounding fake on famous Kleiber set with Domingo isn't sung by Villazon here, but if you watch the documentary included as a bonus - he can sing it alright, and very well, too, impressing Thomas Hampson as he looks on. Speaking of Hampson - why is he considered a weak link of this ensemble? I must say his voice is still marvelous, as is his lieder-singer's breath control, required for Verdian singing. He is not a typical stentorian baritone, often associated with Germont-pere, but he is very moving and he acts his character it in a completely mesmerizing way, you can't help wondering "who is this man? Is he deranged or really wants to do good, or both?"
This brings me to the production. It's definitely challenging. Willy Decker took a lot of liberties with the story, and a viewer used to traditional staging will be taken aback almost right away. Well, aside from poor Dr. Grenvill made to look like death himself, I was excited to see the new angles of a familiar story. It fell apart a bit with the scene when Alfredo asks Annina where Violetta is, but the rest is quite effective. Even the large clock, often considered a cliché, works well when turned into a gambling table. Most of all, this staging allows the principals to freely display their talents, and that's an achievement. Plus, in the second act Netrebko and Villazon really look adorable when frolicking around the "bedroom", you really believe that they're a couple madly in love. I always felt that Alfredo just standing alone in the middle of the stage singing "Dei miei bollenti spiriti" was woefully inadequate, some context was needed.
Overall, this is a must-have. In fact, I can't think of any other new opera recording that would serve as a testament to the art longevity as does this one. As a final note: blu-ray technology really shines here: it makes the performance quite literally come alive before your eyes.
singers~ and even better TOGETHER. This is a gorgeous version of La Traviata, and I am glad it is available on video to
enjoy again and again.
In addition to obtaining a copy of the original Salzburg production, I have read many reviews and stumbled upon one written the day after the performance by Mario Vargas Llosa, the 2010 Nobel Prize winner for literature, for El País newspaper. In it he describes Anna's presence in all its splendor and flexibility to reach extremes of passion and drama in a rare way in which the character and the artist blend developing each other. For those of us who experienced Anna's performance as deeply as he did, Violetta will always be Anna's Violetta and "nobody else's."
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If you are new to opera, start with this one but be advised that all other Traviatas...Read more