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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well, Verdi wanted to put on an opera in modern dress, reflecting present-day mores...
I love Dessay (there – interest declared) and I love her portrayal of Violetta, but..well, is hers the right voice for the role? Thus I started this review (Amazon, for some reason, think my comments worthwhile). I needn't have been so mealy-mouthed - in a recent interview (posted on YT by focusonfrenchcinema) Dessay said that she had never had the right voice for...
Published 19 months ago by Roy and Pauline (London UK)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Buy this for Dessay
Natalie Dessay is an artist whom I admire greatly for her singing, acting, intelligence and musicianship. This performance is ample reason why. Here is a well-sung and compelling acted performance of one of opera's more challenging roles. At times I thought her characterization was a bit edgy - on the verge in a manner more suited to Lucia than to Violetta - but, still,...
Published on 10 Jun 2012 by S. Wells


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Buy this for Dessay, 10 Jun 2012
By 
S. Wells (California) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Verdi: La Traviata [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
Natalie Dessay is an artist whom I admire greatly for her singing, acting, intelligence and musicianship. This performance is ample reason why. Here is a well-sung and compelling acted performance of one of opera's more challenging roles. At times I thought her characterization was a bit edgy - on the verge in a manner more suited to Lucia than to Violetta - but, still, it's a thoughtful and valid portrayal. Her singing is technically brilliant (as in "Sempre libera") and deeply moving ("Addio del passato") where needed. I was particularly pleased that she takes both verses of both her arias. The last several performances of I've seen in the theatre have used these erstwhile traditional cuts.

Miss Dessay is well-matched in the Alfredo of Charles Castronovo. He has a pleasing lyric voice and shows a commendable empathy for a not altogether sympathetic character. His singing is tasteful and involved, though he does come close to losing the high C at the end of his second act cabaletta.

The most serious drawback to this performance is the Giorgio Germont of Ludovic Tezier. To my ears, at least, his voice is dry and colourless and his technique a bit dicey. Add to this that he shows about as much emotion as if he were singing listings from the telephone directory and you'll understand the damage he does in the great second act scena with Violetta. He's no better in his briefer appearances later in the opera.

Even the comprimarios are a pretty sorry lot. It's obvious why these persons are singing with the principals and not as the principals. Perhaps Mr. Tezier would have been better with them.

The updated setting adds nothing to the work and detracts slightly from it. I'd like the opera to be about persons who are a bit more sophisticated than the bottle-chugging partiers in the first scenes of the first and second acts. The pointless, though pleasant, choruses of gypsies and matadors in Act 2, Scene 2 seem even more pointless than usual. Perhaps worst is Violetta's standing-up death, followed by a little stroll across the stage after she's been pronounced dead.

On the whole, I would recommend this only for Miss Dessay's Violetta with some additional enjoyment from Mr Castronovo's Alfredo. As a first, or only, DVD of this opera, I'd go with the Georg Solti version from Covent Garden.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well, Verdi wanted to put on an opera in modern dress, reflecting present-day mores..., 26 May 2013
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This review is from: Verdi: La Traviata [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
I love Dessay (there – interest declared) and I love her portrayal of Violetta, but..well, is hers the right voice for the role? Thus I started this review (Amazon, for some reason, think my comments worthwhile). I needn't have been so mealy-mouthed - in a recent interview (posted on YT by focusonfrenchcinema) Dessay said that she had never had the right voice for Violetta – and still hasn’t (apart from Act 3). Nevertheless, this is a remarkable performance: she's out of her comfort zone at certain climactic moments, most importantly in “Amami Alfredo” (though it's surprising how few Violettas get this right); also “Ah perche venni, incauta” etc. These aren't delivered with full impact, but generally the artist-musician overcomes the inappropriateness of her vocal instrument.
This Violetta is a “famous for being famous” celeb (very minor), knowing she is dying, using gin to escape reality. She sings (superbly) both verses of “Ah fors e lui”, wondering, in spite of herself, if Alfredo really would... following this with a brutally self-mocking “Povera donna etc ..”, rushes for the gin (removed by her PR agent) and launches into a defiant “Sempre libera” (surprisingly, slightly out her comfort zone) collapsing into Alfredo’s arms (a bit cheesy – her, or the director's, artistry has its off moments): but it all makes the swift transition to Act 2 Sc 1 more understandable. BTW Violetta is obviously older than Alfredo (and less good-looking): as were Garbo with Robert Taylor in “Camille” and Fonteyn with Nureyev in “Marguerite and Armand” – dramatic truth didn’t suffer there, nor does it here (those who think this unrealistic should stop watching DVDs and get out more).
The physicality of the love is shown in “De miei bollenti spiriti” (not the only idea pinched from the Willy Decker Salzburg production: I like this, incidentally - after all, their relationship isn't platonic); Castronovo has a very pleasant voice and this Alfredo, though not very young, is shy and seems emotionally immature. Before Annina enters she goes back to working on her finances before meeting this man of business.
The scene with Germont (Tezier) is gut-wrenching: after he's convinced of Violetta’s sincerity, he is alternately pleading, cajoling and cynical (“Un di, quando..”); she, after standing up to his attempted bullying, making concessions, refusing his absolute demand (“Non Sapete”), but finally capitulating. I like the understated way that Tezier plays and sings this – I find it more sympathetic (even though manipulative) and calmer than Germont usually appears. One problem: he could, just, pass for Alfredo’s younger brother.
The party scene is well thought-out: Duphol treats Violetta as his “trophy”, the meretricious wig and party dress showing the humiliation she suffers for capitulating to Germont; Duphol's and Alfredo’s machismo rivalry is nicely calibrated, as is Alfredo's ambivalence toward her; he follows the money-throwing by kneeling and embracing Violetta, before Germont appears who, momentarily losing it, slaps him. In the ensemble she is fine, wanting to get to Alfredo, held back by Germont.
Act 2 ends with her prostrate, alone. Before and during the prelude to Act 3 she crawls back to Annina, taking off the wig and party dress, and looks near death. Her exclamation “Etarde” as much regretting what Alfredo will see as not having any time anyway. When he sees her (before she realises it) he is physically shocked: but “love is not love/Which alters when it alteration finds”. The ending you will either love or hate (I love it): after "gioia" and Dr Grenvil pronouncing her dead, she keeps walking, eyes wide, zombie-like, collapsing on the final chords.
She said in the interview cited that she had no regrets about this DVD; I haven't any about buying it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A challenging rethink, 19 Sep 2012
This review is from: Verdi: La Traviata [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
One of the most powerful Traviatas around. Unconventional yes, but unlike the recent Salzburg/Met prodction, incredibly moving. It might take two or three viewings to get to the bottom of the producer's concept but well worth the trouble as repeated viewings enhance the quality of the whole thing. The entire cast - down to the smallest roles - is admirable. The scene between Violetta and Germont heartrending and wonderfully sung. The very end is shattering - not un til the final bar do you know what the denoument will be. Having seen this at Aix in 2011 and being bowled over by it I wasn't sure how it would fare on DVD but it completely confirms my first impressions. I can be equally enthralled by a great 'traditional' Traviata, e.g. the Gheorgiou/Solti Covent Garden one but that doesn't mean that a powerfully thought through production like this cannot be equally mesmerising. It just helps to prove that Traviata still has the power to speak to us eloquently in the 21st century as much as in times past.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great production and singing, 17 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Verdi: La Traviata [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
I was initially unsure how much I would enjoy this production as it is in modern dress, however I thoroughly enjoyed it. There is minimal scenery but the tone palette of the costumes is beautiful. Natalie Dessay is a heartrending Violetta and sings superbly.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A very good production, 3 May 2014
This review is from: Verdi: La Traviata [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
This is a fantastic production, made to tell this repeatedly-told story afresh in the way it hits home in your heart, skilfully combining theatrical and operatic art forms. Actors are brilliant. I agree with another viewer in that the judgement should be withheld until after a few viewings.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best ever, 9 Oct 2013
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Cicci Ek (Helsinki, FI) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Verdi: La Traviata [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
This is an extraordinary version/setup of La Traviata. The choice of singers who can act makes this fantastic version of the opera a masterċiece.It is sung beautifully and acted perfectly. Best ever!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Such passion!, 21 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Verdi: La Traviata [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
This is such a different production of La Traviata from the one I have seen several times before and one really shares the anguish of the lovers. Charles Castronovo and Natalie Dessay made a perfect combination.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 4 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Verdi: La Traviata [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
I had thought that the Fleming at the RHO was the best Traviata of all time but Natalie Dessay exceeds it partly by her emotional portraying of the anguish of Violetta and partly by the excellent staging and direction of Jean-Francois Sivadier
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Verdi: La Traviata [DVD] [2012]
Verdi: La Traviata [DVD] [2012] by Natalie Dessay/Charles Castronovo/Ludovic Tezier/Louis Langree/Jean-Francois Sivadier (DVD - 2012)
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