Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Reviews

Santa Fe: Secondary Mozart in First Rate Staging

Impresario Boris Goldovsky famously referred to La finta giardiniera as The Phony Farmerette.

Regimented Daughter in Santa Fe

At Santa Fe Opera, Donizetti’s effervescent The Daughter of the Regiment can’t quite decide what it wants to be when it grows up.

Santa Fe’s Celebratory Jester

Santa Fe Opera noted a landmark two-thousandth performance in their distinguished history with a stylish new production of Rigoletto.

Sibelius Kullervo, BBC Proms, London

Why did Jean Sibelius suppress Kullervo (Op7, 1892)? There are many theories why he didn't allow it to be heard after its initial performance, though he referred to it fondly in private.

Aïda at Aspen

Most opera professionals, including the individuals who do the casting for major houses, despair of finding performers who can match historical standards of singing in operas such as Aïda. Yet a concert performance in Aspen gives a glimmer of hope. It was led by four younger singers who may be part of the future of Verdi singing in America and the world.

Prom 53: Shostakovich — Orango

One might have been forgiven for thinking that both biology and chronology had gone askew at the Royal Albert Hall yesterday evening.

Written on Skin at Lincoln Center

Three years ago I made what may have been my single worst decision in a half century of attending opera. I wasn’t paying close attention when some conference organizers in Aix-en-Provence offered me two tickets to the premiere of a new opera. I opted instead for what seemed like a sure thing: William Christie conducting some Charpentier.

Pesaro’s Rossini Festival 2015

The 36th Rossini Opera Festival in Rossini’s Pesaro! La gazza ladra (1817), La gazzetta (1816) and L'inganno felice (1812) — the little opera that made Rossini famous.

Santa Fe: Placid Princess of Judea

Unlike the brush fire in a distant neighborhood of the John Crosby Theatre, Santa Fe Opera’s Salome stubbornly failed to ignite.

Airy and Bucolic Glimmerglass Flute

As part of a concerted effort to incorporate local color and resonance into its annual festival, Glimmerglass has re-imagined The Magic Flute in a transformative woodland setting.

Glimmerglass Conquers Cato

Bravura singing and vibrant instrumental playing were on ample display in Glimmerglass Festival’s riveting Cato in Utica.

Energetic Glimmerglass Candide

Bernstein’s Candide seems to have more performance versions than Tales of Hoffmann.

Die Eroberung von Mexico in Salzburg

That’s The Conquest of Mexico, an historical music drama composed in 1991 by German composer Wolfgang Rihm (b. 1952). But wait. Wolfgang Rihm construed a few sentences of Artaud’s La Conquête du Mexique (1932) mixed up with bits of Aztec chant and bits of poem(s) by Mexico’s Octavio Paz (d. 1998) to make a libretto.

Scottish Sensation at Glimmerglass

Glimmerglass is celebrating its 40th Festival season with a stylish new production of Verdi’s Macbeth.

Norma in Salzburg

This Salzburg Norma is not new news. This superb production was first seen at the Salzburg Festival’s springtime Whitsun Festival in 2013 with this same cast. It will now travel to a few major European cities.

The power of music: a young cast in a semi-stage account of Monteverdi’s first opera

John Eliot Gardiner conducted a much anticipated performance of Monteverdi’s first opera L’Orfeo at the BBC Proms on 4 August 2015, with his own Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists.

Cold Mountain Wows Audience at Santa Fe World Premiere

On August 1, 2015, Santa Fe Opera presented the world premiere of Cold Mountain, a brand new opera composed by Pulizer Prize and Grammy winner Jennifer Higdon.

Review: You Promised Me Everything

Richard Taruskin entitled his 1988 polemical critique of the notion of ‘authenticity’ in the context of historically informed performance, ‘The Pastness of the Present and the Presence of the Past’.

Manon Lescaut, Munich

Puccini’s Manon Lescaut at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich. Some will scream in rage but in its austerity it reaches to the heart of the opera.

Proms Saturday Matinée 1

It might seem churlish to complain about the BBC Proms coverage of Pierre Boulez’s 90th anniversary. After all, there are a few performances dotted around — although some seem rather oddly programmed, as if embarrassed at the presence of new or newish music. (That could certainly not be claimed in the present case.)

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

G. Verdi: La Traviata
09 Nov 2008

Muti's La Traviata

EMI owns this recording, so if pride dictates they repackage it in the "Great Recordings of the Century" series, a dissenter shouldn't moralize.

G. Verdi: La Traviata

Roderick Kennedy, Alfredo Kraus, Sarah Walker, Renato Bruson, Renata Scotto, Cynthia Buchan, Suso Mariategui. Ambrosian Opera Chorus, Philharmonia Orchestra. Ricardo Muti, conductor.

Angel 5099950969425; EMI Classics 5099950969456 [2CDs]

$23.99  Click to buy

Your reviewer will resist the urge to consider this an attempt to get a few more sales out of a La Traviata that may not stand up so well in comparison to the many other versions of the opera on the market.

Unless one is a Ricardo Muti fan. That seems to be the selling point of John Osborne’s booklet essay, where due respect is first paid to Arturo Toscanini (“Muti’s distinguished predecessor”) before Muti’s version earns praise for being “tautly, elegantly, and yet at the same time expressively conducted.” Tautly, yes, to the point of a sort of manic rigidity. Elegantly and expressively will be in the ears of the listeners; those qualities escaped your reviewer’s. Muti wanted a “feeling of urgency - even feverishness,” and he got that, from first note to last. Charm, sensuality, pathos make only fleeting impressions. The first act especially loses much of its romantic appeal, an essential element for setting up the tragedy of the ensuing acts. Muti also makes a point - a heavily underlined one - of getting a “banda”-like sound from the orchestra for the party music, and in the crystal clear sound, the effect is mannered.

1980 finds both Renata Scotto and Alfredo Kraus in their maturity as singers. That means they both give professional, technically secure readings. And it also means neither sounds youthful. Scotto’s top never settles, and in legato lines, a wobble interferes. In all likelihood, the credit for any “elegance” this set has goes to Kraus. Beyond that, his instrument isn’t quite lush enough to make the most of Alfredo’s best music. That being said, the final duet for Alfredo and Violetta goes very well. Renato Bruson is in prime voice, if anyone wants a Traviata where the best singing comes from Papa Germont. That character’s cabaletta at the end of act two, scene one, is included, as Muti delivers the score uncut. Your reviewer could have done without the second verse of “Addio del passato,” where other sopranos have made him regret its omission.

Fans of the conductor and/or singers have the right to disagree and heartily endorse EMI’s decision to deem this one of the “Great Recordings of the Century.” There are certainly plenty of alternatives for those of us who want some more flexibility and beauty in Verdi’s masterpiece.

Chris Mullins

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):