Verdi, La Traviata, A. Gheorghiu, R. Vargas, La Scala, L. Maazel
(re-released on September 30, 2008)
Arthaus Musik 101343
Is it more faithful to Verdi's intentions to continue to set productions in the 1850s or to update the opera to our own time? The Robert Carsen production for the reopening of the Teatro La Fenice, which updated the story to Las Vegas in the 1970s, may have gone too far, but something felt quite right about the famous production with Anna Netrebko in Salzburg. This classic staging from La Scala is the former rather than the latter, with traditional but gorgeous sets by Dante Ferretti and glamorous Romantic era costumes by Gabriella Pescucci. Angela Gheorghiu, whose voice can apparently heal the sick, is a highly reputed Violetta, who has perhaps worn thin a bit by the time of this 2007 performance, the fioriture gone a little flaccid and the Italian tinged with eastern colors ("Amami, Alfrado!"), but the high notes and dramatic power still in place. Her Alfredo, Ramón Vargas, is well matched vocally, a heroic tenor, although closeups are kind to neither singer.
Gheorghiu is an elegant, thoughtful Violetta, not at all frivolous but flirting dangerously with an over-emoting style of acting especially in the third act. Roberto Frontali is a glowering Germont, the voice more solid on the bottom than the top, but rounding out a strong ensemble of principals. It is not a particularly exciting DVD, especially with the odd set of slo-mo scenes from earlier in the opera playing during the devastating Act III prelude (video directed by Paola Longobardo) but a good performance.