Verdi - La Traviata / Haitink, McLaughlin, MacNeil, Ellis, Glyndebourne Festival Opera
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Vivacious, young soprano Marie McLaughlin is magnificent as the ill-fated courtesan Violetta in this passionate production of Giuseppe Verdi's timeless classic, directed by the internationally renowned Sir Peter Hall and conducted by one of music's all-time greats, Bernard Haitink. Walter MacNeil brings to striking life the role of Violetta's lover, Alfredo, and Brent Ellis shines as Alfredo's father, Germont. Set in 19th century Paris, this moving story of doomed love and its dramatic deathbed reconciliation remains one of Verdi's most popular operas.
Performances of La Traviata stand or fall to an unusual extent on their principal soprano; the first thing that needs saying about this Glyndebourne performance is that Marie McLaughlin has all of the attributes needed for a role that is fundamentally a virtuoso one, no matter how emotionally involving it is as well. The point about Violetta is that she is, with absolute authenticity, all of the things she becomes in the course of the opera--the febrile socialite and yearning love of Act One, the quiet domesticated woman of Act Two who sacrifices her love for Alfredo to precisely the family values he has talked her into espousing, the dying penitent of Act Three. Walter McNeil is an impressive poetic Alfredo in whose successful courtship we can believe. He is also unusually good in Act Two, Scene Two where for once his public humiliation of Violetta is actually painful, which makes his repentance at her deathbed far more moving. Brent Ellis is solid and powerful as his father Germont--the duet in which he talks Violetta into renouncing Alfredo and yet comes to value what he is destroying is one of the high points here, as it should be. Bernard Haitink conducts impressively. --Roz Kaveney
- Sung in Italian (no subtitles)
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Notheless, all three versions have first rate singing, with singers so well-known that it will be out-of-place to judge their vocal mastery.
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