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|Renée Fleming||Violetta Valery|
|Joseph Calleja||Alfredo Germont|
|Thomas Hampson||Giorgio Germont|
|Monika-Evelin Liiv||Flora Bervoix|
|Kostas Smoriginas||Marquis D'Obigny|
|Eddie Wade||Baron Douphol|
|Richard Wiegold||Doctor Grenvil|
|Haoyin Xue||Gastone De Letoriéres|
|Bob Crowley||Set Decoration/Design|
Posted February 10, 2012
I have experienced Fleming's Violetta live a couple of times, and found it unsatisfying. Then came this second DVD version of her Traviata (this time from Covent Garden, after the bland Los Angeles version), and I wondered why the world needed another of her Violetta performances in a production already released with the superb Gheorghiu.
I was wrong.
This is one of the most beautiful performances I have witnessed by the people's diva. I believe the reason for this lies in the conducting. Pappano drives the tempi to the limit of Fleming's capabilities, driving her to the edge. She doesn't scoop, coo or whine her way through the role, but is forced to sing it full throttle in order to keep up with the orchestra. The effect is splendid. She still is not a great actress, but the sounds she produces are worth every second of this production. Only when she is left to her own devices, especially in "e strano, e strano" does she resort to her old tricks and habits, but once the orchestra comes in for "ah, forse lui", her breath support kicks in beautifully again.
Calleja shines here as Alfredo. His fast vibrato and plangeant sound are suited quite wonderfully to the demands of the role. He sounds youthful, eager, and energetic. He plays the teenager quite well. This is an especially good contrast to the stiff Germont of Hampson. His singing rings, but his overly pompous interpretation of Germont seems overdone. Only in the very end of Act II, scene 1 does he really seem honest, in reaction to Calleja's tempestuous behavior.
The production still looks lovely, and the costumes made for Fleming show her at her best. A slightly weak cast of conprimarios, especially a pallid Gastone, rounds out the production.