Customer Review

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine production with a minor difficulty, 28 April 2012
This review is from: Verdi: La Traviata [DVD] (1993) (German Import) [2001] (DVD)
I was very fortunate to be at Covent Garden to witness Edita Gruberova as Lucia in a lavish production masterminded by Franco Zeffirelli. Her mad scence was greeted with a great ovation which stopped the show. Since that night I have been a committed Gruberova admirer and have a substantial number of DVDs graced by the soprano and at the time it was inevitable that I would make this purchase of La Traviata from La Fenice. That said I have avoided purchasing Lucrezia Borgia which has received some very mixed reviews

This 1992 production was produced and designed by the very experienced Pier Luigi Pizzi and he has created a wonderfully staged traditional production. Pizzi has opted for many soft colour tones and as always is a master at the use of space for the stage never gives the impression of being cluttered. His clever touch is very much there in act one by the use of a well placed mirror (a frequent Pizzi device) and the use of the dancers behind the Violetta/Alfredo duet

The musical content of the production, under the baton of Carlo Rizzi, is very high. Initially played as a rather diffident, retiring young man consummed by an overwhelming love Neil Shicoff is an impressive Alfredo. There is a marked absence of anything resembling latin passion and Shicoff keeps a tight and masterly control of character. A solid and dependable singer Giorgio Zancanaro creates an autocratic but compassionate father. He delivers a very worthy Di Provenza il mar

Such reservation as there are must centre on the performance of Gruberova whose acting simply does not match her singing. She is certainly vivacious in act one but comes across as being seriously ill at ease during the whole of act two. At sometime during preproduction the wrong decision was made to dress the soprano only in white (three changes) during the first two acts. This error exacerbates rather than detracts from the problems associated with the ageing process. As both singer and actor the soprano is at her best during the demanding bedroom scence which comprises the whole of act three.

A traditional production of this famous opera demands that Violetta is portrayed as an elegant, young society girl stricken by a dreadful disease. There are available on DVD three such performances; Angela Gheorghiu, the outstanding Violetta of her generation (Covent Garden 1994), the great singing actress Teresa Stratas (Zeffirelli film 1982) and Stefania Bonfadelli, a superbly frail and vunerable Violetta (Busetto 2002). I have yet to view Marie McLaughlin in the 1988 Glyndebourne production. It is a particular pity that La Traviata in Paris with Eteri Gvazava is not at the moment available

Edita Gruberova is at her very best, both as singer and actress, as Queen Elizabeth I in the Munich production (released on DVD in 2006). A performance, as the singer has admitted, based on Margaret Thatcher.

Trottman
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