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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sublime Victoria de los Ángeles "leads" a not adequately celebrated, but really superb, La Traviata., 23 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Verdi: La Traviata (Audio CD)
I bought these CDs, used but perfect, for less than 1 on Amazon UK. I knew that it was not one of the most celebrated La Traviata and I was quite sure to have listened to enough versions of this Verdi's masterpiece. Nevertheless, I was encouraged to try it, besides the price, by the fact that it is one of the rare Serafin's stereo recording (1959), and by the well known names of Victoria de los Ángeles and Mario Sereni.
(This is the 1992 issue; there are other more recent reissues; see, for instance: Verdi: La Traviata or Verdi: La Traviata(2Cd)(Reissue) or La Traviata (Serafin).)

Well, I surprisingly found myself listening to an exceptionally convincing performance, in a very good sound.

As the here octogenarian Tullio Serafin (1878-1968) started the first beats of the Prelude, I was immediately involved in a musical experience that promised to be indubitably very interesting; indeed, the promise will be honored beyond every most optimistic expectations.

Victoria de los Ángeles (1923-2005) is superb. She is in her wonderful prime and she sings ineffably well. The naturalness and the beauty of her vocal emission are here simply incredible. This allows her to concentrate on the interpretative aspects concerning the multi-faceted profile of Violetta. Her rendering is blessed with rare sensitiveness and it results absolutely convincing. You are really called to share Violetta's intimate travail and to rejoice and to suffer with her: pure Art, which allows you to live a great emotional experience!

Carlo Del Monte (1923-2000, real name Helenio Barjau) has been a very pleasant surprise. In 1959, the unlucky Spanish tenor was at the end of a very troubled period of his life. He had met contractual problems with the Gran Teatre del Liceu de Barcelona and with the Opéra de Paris, and, even worse, the same year he lost one eye for a cancer and he had to use a prothesis connected to his optic nerve.
Anyway, once you have "cleaned" you ears from your best known Alfredo's voices and interpretations, you will find in Del Monte a very natural singer, absolutely well in tune, with a nice vocal timbre perfect suited to Alfredo. Del Monte's innate musical instinct leads him to a spontaneous interpretative approach, both on the side of tenderness and on that of passion, therefore depicting a very credible and vivid Alfredo. Bravo!

Mario Sereni (b. 1928), a wonderful singer and interpreter, during his career has always been characterized by a timbre more mature than that typical of his age; therefore, even if here he is only 31, he plays a really convincing Germont (on the contrary, for instance in the EMI Andrea Chénier recorded with Franco Corelli, he sounds as a bit too old Carlo Gérard).
Anyway, here Sereni is superb and, in the Second Act, he perfectly matches De Los Angeles' divine artistry.

Santa Chissari and Silvia Bertona were both reliable supporting role singers, boasting many recordings in top level casts. Here, the first one is a vivid and convincing Flora; the second one is a tender and devoted Annina.

Excellent is also the level of the male supporting roles; everyone of them reached a good professional standing: Sergio Tedesco (Gaston), Vico Polotto (Douphol), Silvio Maionica (D'Obigny), Ronaldo Giaiotti (Grenvil), Renato Ercolani (Giuseppe).

Tullio Serafin conducts from the heights of his rarely matched operatic artistry and experience. Age has expelled from his approach every minimal trace of affectation and it has exalted his traditional essentiality. Quite invisibly, he gives to this performance a steady interpretative unitarity, perfectly balancing the vocal and the musical aspects.

The Rome Opera House Orchestra perfectly masters the idiom and its understanding with the Maestro is perfect. The Chorus (Master: Giuseppe Conca) is idiomatic and excellent.

The most prominent character of the whole performance is a supreme artistic naturalness, which makes everything realistically flows, emotionally attracting and involving the listener in a living dramatic action.

The 1959 stereo sound is exceptionally good for the epoch. Voices are in the foreground, but they do not sound boxy; on the contrary, they can freely breath in the airy recording space. The Orchestra is a bit in the background, but the whole thing works very well, thanks also to, I suppose, a wise 1992 Abbey Road Studios digital remastering.

The booklet does not contain the libretto, but a track-by-track résumé (in English) of the story.

In conclusion, even if all the components involved in this project are really excellent, I think that this is undoubtably Victoria de los Angeles' La Traviata: her superb interpretation indelibly marks with the traits of sublime this, for me, now, unforgettable performance.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A memorable recording of a Verdi masterpiece., 24 Dec 2003
By 
John Austin "austinjr@bigpond.net.au" (Kangaroo Ground, Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Verdi: La Traviata (Audio CD)
Being one of the most frequently performed and recorded operas, La Traviata could well feature several times in the collections of opera enthusiasts. This version of it came into my collection recently, at an absurdly cheap price, and I have happily listed to it many times.
In charge is veteran conductor Tullio Serafin, who leads off with a First Act Prelude that is the best I have ever heard. Victoria de los Angeles is soon heard amid the partying in Act One. She is not at her best here, somehow unable to be convincing as the accepted leader of what might be called the Paris “drop out set”. She is better a little later when teasing Alfredo. The frantic coloratura at the end of Act One requires her to produce high notes that are beyond her range, but this is effective nevertheless in suggesting Violetta’s wild resolve to live beyond her capabilities.
Act Two, always so moving in actual performance, presents the long confrontation between Violetta and Georgio Germont. The singing here is so glorious as to rob the scene of its dramatic tension. How could a father object to his son’s choice of companion when she sings like an angel? The singing of Mario Sereni, as Germont Senior, it must be said, is even better.
Act Three in this performance is not the most successful. The wonderful finale doesn’t quite deliver the knock out punch that Verdi packed into it. In Act Four everything goes well, after another beautifully phrased Prelude.
The tenor Carlo del Monte seems more concerned with vocalizing than conveying the conflicting emotions of poor Alfredo Germont. Some of his music is excised in this slightly cut version. The 1959 stereo recording was made in the Rome Opera House, one of my favorite venues for opera recordings. One hears plenty of space around the soloists’ voices, although they are closely miked.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great La Traviatas, 7 July 2013
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This review is from: Verdi: La Traviata (Audio CD)
I came to this recording late, wrongly assuming it could not match Callas, Cotrubas or Caballe. Victoria de los Angeles is the sweetest Violetta on record. Her voice is clean and pure, and particularly haunting in the slow, but beautiful, rendition of "Dite alla giovine" duet. She has a voice, in different way to Callas, that could press your emotion buttons with ease.

When I heard the tenor Carlo del Monte I thought, at first, that he was a comprimario bumped up to a lead role - he has a thin, slightly trapped voice, but I warmed to him (He was a famed Zarzuela singer). He has confidence and expression, and he certainly sings a good vocal line.

Mario Sereni did not possess the strongest baritone voice - he was no Scarpia - but he is a fine Germont. His voice is warm and his slightly thin timbre is no hinderence here.

I've always had a soft spot for the Rome Opera Orchestra and Serafin does a predictable safe and secure job conducting them. I have to add that the recording is terrific: they obviously made the decision to push the chorus back in the first act and accentuate the principals. I liked it. NB: There are the usual unnecessary cuts - "Oh mio rimorso" and "No non udrai rimproveri" - but all-in-all this is a recording I would favour over both Joan Sutherland's recordings (shock-horror) and both Renata Scotto's. It's available under a number of re-issues and at a budget price too!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Double CD, 31 July 2013
By 
Mr. B. A. French "bazzafrench" (Hampton Hill, Middx) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Verdi: La Traviata (Audio CD)
Although I know my classical music, I am not what you call and ‘opera buff’. Because of this I have started to add the works of Verdi to my collection. Opera is like red wine; before the age of thirty it just gives you a headache, but as you get older you learn to appreciate it.

As I am not sure what I like, I look out for this bargains on Amazon. There is usually somebody flogging discs on here for around a quid and that is exactly what I found.

EMI Classics For Pleasure seem to always deliver good value recording and this is no exception. The recording is crisp and precise.

In short, if you are just tipping your toe into the water and testing the genius that is Verdi, then this product is a good place to start.
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