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4.8 out of 5 stars
29
4.8 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 22 April 2013
La Traviata is one of my favourite operas. It has everything that an opera lover could wish for.
This set provides a level of performance that would be difficult to surpass. Carlos Kleiber was
one of the greatest conductors of the last century; unfortunately his recording legacy was rather
limited. Grab this set, no matter how many other versions of La Traviata you have, and enjoy every
minute of this truly benchmark performance.
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on 26 June 2010
I bought this set because I have owned it for a long time having first purchased it on vinyl LP. I have heard many versions of Traviata and in my view this recording was the best, and despite recent excellent competition it remains so. Ileana Cotrubas sings Violetta perfectly. Her portrayal is spellbinding throughout and in my opinion cannot be surpassed.

As ever, Domingo and Sherrill Milnes sing superbly, and Carlos Kleiber's conducting gets the very best out of Verdi's score.

This is a performance I have returned to again and again over the years. I knew that eventually I would have to buy it on CD and I have no regrets. Thoroughly recommended.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 28 January 2017
It has taken me a good few years to alight upon this recording as possibly the most satisfying of all in a field which has surprisingly few top-notch recordings and a good few clinkers for so perennially popular an opera. I have worked my way through the Caballé recording conducted by Prêtre, Moffo with Previtali, Freni with Gardelli, Studer with Levine and, my favourite of all, Callas' live recording at Covent Garden in 1958 conducted by Rescigno on the Myto label. All have their considerable charms and merits and none is perfect. I have discounted both Sutherland recordings, the first because to my ears she sings flat but no-one else seems to hear it, and the second because she recorded it a bit late and it's rather generic - but I suspect that I shall eventually return to both and give them another try.

But back to this one: it is Cotrubas in fact who comes closest to rivalling the pathos and detail of Callas' Violetta. Like Callas, she is adept at suggesting vulnerability and like Callas there are some incipient technical weaknesses in her soprano, but both had the gift of harnessing those to create the most complete and touching depiction of Violetta. It is also true that despite suggesting a kind of breathy frailty wholly appropriate to a tubercular heroine Cotrubas actually possessed a formidable technique. She can handle the fioriture of "Sempre libera", soar up to a high D flat at its conclusion, maintain a totally steady line in the cantabile passages like "Dite alla giovine" and like Callas plunge into a surprisingly dark lower register. Then there is the essential quality of her tone: a plangent, sometimes piercing note which goes straight to the heart.

I have not even mentioned the other major attraction of this recording, which is the sensitivity and flexibility of Kleiber's conducting. He is unafraid to take risks with quite extreme application of rubato and some daringly slow tempi, but it works.

Cotrubas' cast-mates are somewhat more generic: both Domingo and Milnes sing out with their robust, healthy voices without suggesting any special involvement and of course Milnes sounds too young and virile but I enjoy both, even if I prefer Bergonzi and Merrill respectively. No; for me, the soprano and conductor are the stars here, with all due respect to the two other great artists. The sound remains exemplary, especially for a recording now forty years old.
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on 18 October 2010
This verdi masterpiece has been recorded by many artists.Without waisting time lets get on it, Contrubas,the choice of La Traviata is greatly defined by the soprano voice and mostly Act 1 'simpre libera" & Contrubus is not afraid to hit the high notes but what she has is that she has a more controlled voice, her diction of words is clear enough, perhaps personally I would not rate her as the best Violetta but certainly one of the better voices.To me the best Violetta is Victoria De los Angelos with Serafin -EMI even though she is happiest after the taxing Act 1.Now Alfredo, Placido Domingo sings with great artistry, young and ardent man in love with a Violetta.Once again the choice is defined by the suitable Alfredo and Domingo suits the part very well, his "felice ......." "romorse infamous...." "o parigi o cara' excellent all the way. To me nothing is as touching deep down than the infamous selfserving Germont Pere sung by the incredible Sherril Milnes, his "pure angelo ....'is excellent especially when he tells Violetta that one day your beauty will fade....you are young and beautiful ....allow Alfredo to be with his family.....etc but my favourate part is "Di Provenza.....aria, for some reason I dont know why CD compilations ignore this aria,there is a lot of "Libiamo....." already. the last Act is done magnificently. Why then 4 stars? I guess it is the accent of Cotrubas as Violetta, she is not Italian enough for me personally. Well, who is at the top of the list? Victoria De Los Angelos-Serafin EMI ADD 1959, Dame Sutherland-Pritchard 1962 Decca ADD, Contrubus-Carlos Kleiber ADD,Sills-Ceccato -EMI, Scotto-DG, Scotto with Carreras(Opera Doro)live 1973, Anna Moffo-Erich Kleiber, Angela Gheorghiu- Sir Georg Solti( with an uninspiring Nucci as Germont Pere)Caballe-Prete(bad conducting though) Forget Tebaldi's bad and bland recording, Callas-Ghione 1953(bad sound though), Tiziana Fabbriccini-Muti with Roberto Alagna(Sony) have also got rave reviews except to say that Fabbriciini was praised prematurely, some crtics say.Kiri Kinawa has not made a visible mark on La traviata (Decca)too old Alfredo Kraus as Alfredo does not help(he still sounded good though). The ultimate La Traviata for me is Angela Gheorghui with Ramon Vargas and Roberto Frontali by the La Scala crew but it is on DVD & blueray only for now. This magnificent CD by Carlos Kleiber brings you on to the drama well conducted with an alert Cotrubas, best Alfredo and best Germont Pere. Buy this with no reservations it is one of the best La Traviata. Take it from the fan who owns 11 La Traviatas.
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on 13 August 2017
Simply superb version of this opera conducted by the great Carlos Kleiber, an outstanding example of his art, with knife-edge precision and high drama. Cot rivals is a fragile sounding Violetta - totally believable - rather than the healthy sopranos we often here. She copes superbly with the coloratura. Domingo and Milnes are also excellent. Great!
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on 5 December 2011
There is great refinement in this recording. It's in evidence from the opening bars of the prelude. The highlight of the whole recording for me is the Violetta/Germont duet in Act 2. Milnes reins back his powerful voice to blend better with sweet sound of Cotrubas. She sings and acts beautifully, throughout - one of the best interpreters.

Domingo is just right for Alfredo, but I cannot understand why he or Kleiber or the producer, allowed the God-awful, nasal, squawk he produces at the end of the cabaletta "O mio rimorso" to remain in this recording. It ruins a great Verdi set-piece which doesn't even ask for a top C, and I think it's spliced into the recording, which only makes the decision worse.

That aside, this is a top contender for this opera, alongside any Callas recording, the Caballe/Pretre on RCA, the De Los Angeles/Serafin on EMI, or, a recent find, the Gruberova/Rizzi on Teldec.
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on 16 November 2009
I recently saw a production of La Traviata at the Wales Millenium Centre. This recording was recommended in the programme and I bought it straight away.
It really is a wonderful production - buy it!
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on 29 April 2010
I've had this recording on a cassette tape for over 12 years now and obviously it's time for me to update to a CD. But I can honestly say this is one of the best versions of La Traviata I've heard. Probably the best. The emotions permeate the singing, it really touches the heart. Would definately recommend as the ultimate version of this timeless opera.
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on 9 August 2010
I have really enjoyed this CD and the sound is so much better than either of the Callas versions. The critics also seem to be impressed and I believe this regularly gets rated as the best version on CD
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on 5 May 2014
Cotrubas is easily categorised: Callas without the genius. The voice is far too closely miked so that every breath is clearly audible. Domingo is a good musician, but his portrait lacks variety and vocal 'heft'. Kleiber favours quick tempi and keeps the whole thing moving. If you want a good quality recording, you won't go far wrong with this one. If you don't mind a poor quality recording because of the genius of the Prima Donna, go for the 1955 live performance with Callas as the fated artisan with Giulini conducting the La Scala forces: it will come as a revelation.
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