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on 22 September 2010
There's no question that this version of La Traviata for the Teatro alla Scala is a quality production on many levels and, available at a budget price, the Blu-ray is nevertheless of a very high standard, but I have a few minor reservations, mainly around the lack of any sense of adventure in the staging. It's a safe production with a perfectly traditional staging, unimaginatively presented and choreographed, with little to distinguish it from countless other productions of the opera available.

It's harder to be critical of the actual performance on any other level than that of personal taste and Angela Gheorghiu doesn't sit well with me. There's no doubting her technical ability, the sheer control or the strength of her voice, but personally, I find it a little mannered, and I would say the same about her acting. As a result, her Violetta never feels as fragile or as vulnerable as she ought to be - at least from what I would expect of the role. There's no chemistry whatsoever either with the otherwise fine Ramon Vargas as Alfredo, making this production technically strong, but emotionally weak.

By way of comparison, I find the Willy Decker staging of the opera for the 2005 Salzburg Festspiele La Traviata much more interesting and innovative. A rather minimalist staging, there is however great originality in how it makes the story meaningful, vital and contemporary (whereas this version feels a little bit stuffy and practically like a museum piece by comparison), drawing out all the latent passion and violence out of what should indeed be a highly charged opera. While the question of who is the better singer is certainly debatable, it's one of Anna Netrebko's best performances and her acting seems better fitted to this particular role, blending perfectly and credibly with Rolando Villazón and a superb Thomas Hampson.

This version however is certainly a strong, all-round production, with fine performances and, particularly at the current price, it is an excellent introduction to opera on Blu-ray, as well as appealing to traditionalists and fans of Gheorghiu. There are however more exciting and daring versions around for anyone a little more adventurous.
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on 21 February 2010
Although in some respects I prefer Gheorghius version with Solti, this is yet an other example of her wonderful and to my opinion very complete interpretation of Violetta. Vargas is a pleasure to listen to. Picture quality amazing.
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on 4 June 2010
I already own a Traviata on DVD bought a few years ago with a different production and location.
Blu ray brings you closer to the stage than you can imagine.
Being filmed in what is arguably the best Opera House in the world, with singers at the peak of their career and with the magnificent La Scala acoustics is wonderful enough, but add to this the high definition and superb 7-channel DTS sound and if you, like me, enjoy Italian Opera then you're in for a treat.
Angela is superb as Violeta and Vargas again is not too taxed as Ergmont. The orchestra under Maazel sounds rich, you'd think they are playing in your living room. Besides all that it is excellent value for money
One to cherish. ENJOY!!
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HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERon 21 November 2011
This production, performance and recording of La Traviata made under Maazel at La Scala intriguingly and especially comes into direct competition with Gheorghiu's own earlier début recording made with Solti conducting at Covent Garden. That is still much beloved by considerable numbers of collectors, many of whom take the view that it has established an unmatchable benchmark. Not everyone agrees of course. There have, of course, been many other recordings made since then as well as before then but this review is going to concentrate on the merits of this new disc and comment on how it compares with the earlier recording.

This is a traditional performance and shares that feature with the earlier recording. However, the stage space available at La Scala is much more generous and all three acts benefit from the extra room. The first act allows for a real sense of a large room devoted to providing pleasure and ease of movement for many guests. The second act gives an aura of luxurious spaciousness which seems appropriate to the story and the third act provides the opposite effect of a large desolate space also appropriate to the situation.

Ramon Vargas is a good singer who is able to act and communicate a sense of real communication. There are others who may take a more dominant role but in this case he is rightly subordinate to Gheorghiu. Roberto Frontali is one of the most acceptable Giorgio Germonts that I have seen. This is a difficult role to portray as it is so unsympathetic to Violetta and probably especially contrary to modern mores. Nevertheless he brings authority without bombast and is both young enough to be a strong character yet old enough to expect and demand social respect.

The remaining supporting roles are all well done with committed and believable acting combined by secure singing. Equally, the chorus are in good voice with plenty of social interaction in the crowd scenes in acts 1 and 2. The ballet dancers make a good job of their gypsy and matador moment.

The night really belongs to Gheorghiu though and in this performance she demonstrates a great advance of sheer dramatic delivery. The first act is fairly low key as appropriate to her role in the story but with act 2 she handles the relationships with the two Germonts superbly ending with a spine tingling and passionate plea not to forget her love for Alfredo as she prepares her departure from the act. The last act once more is a demonstration of `being' the role rather than acting the role. Throughout she is able to deliver all the big vocal moments and the audience are fully appreciative. This is an older woman's understanding of the part and, as such, is markedly more subtle than her earlier performance. That is one from a much younger and less sophisticated or experienced woman and is appropriate to the age she was then. In a nutshell, with these two recordings we are given the choice of either a young woman giving a fine young interpretation or an older woman giving a fine but more mature interpretation.

The orchestral contribution under the experienced leadership of Maazel is quite the equal of that delivered by Solti and the Covent Garden team.

What cannot be denied though, are the obvious advances in recorded technology where the imaging is richer with a greater range of colour. The earlier imaging suffers from over-contrasty imaging and a lack of detail on the highlights such as Violetta's ballroom dress (technically called `highlight burn-out). The sound is equally much fuller and is supplied in DTS 7.1 and stereo.

The other extraordinary advantage the new disc has is one of price as currently it is available as a budget price disc - a sort of sampler for the Arthaus catalogue. This does, of course, makes it amazingly tempting to buy whether as the only version to have or as a second. Gheorghiu fans could therefore buy both performances and solve the choice issue that way! Beware though - the older full-priced disc is still available and is by no means as attractive as this bargain disc. Order your copy with care therefore.

In summary therefore, this is a disc that Gheorghiu fans should snap up without delay as it is bound to give them great pleasure as indeed the performance clearly gave the audience at La Scala. Others who are more tentative as regards recordings by Gheorghiu should still find this a very attractive proposition especially at its present tempting price. For all of these reasons it seems that this disc fully deserves a 5 star rating for those who are attracted to the cast and venue.
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on 14 March 2017
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on 6 May 2010
When I saw the price of this disc I was suspicious that it might not be the complete opera; rest assured it is the whole work, with the bonus of tasters of other HD issues.
La Scala's production can be described as traditional and sumptuous - sets, costumes, lighting, makeup, direction etc. all first class. The two main principals, Angela Gheorghiu and Ramon Vargas need no introduction, while Roberto Frontali as Giorgio Germont has a fine voice, younger-sounding than is sometimes found in this part. Lorin Maazel holds everything together expertly and draws some fine playing from the La Scala orchestra.
Gheorghiu and Vargas are in fine voice, and sing their solos most affectingly. She acts her heart out, from flashing eyes to quivering bosom, while he moves well but does not always carry the part in his facial expression; he does show a little more emotion after a well-deserved slap from his stage father in the finale to act 2.
The minor solo parts, and the renowned La Scala chorus, are all excellent. The La Scala audience is generous in its appreciation and gets curtain calls after each act.
Picture quality is as good as I have seen, with just a little movement judder very occasionally from my Oppo player. Shots are well-chosen, vision control very good. I have seen criticism elsewhere of the audio balance between soloists and the rest, but I would disagree. I wish I could say that the sound of La Scala is faithfully reproduced, but since I haven't had the pleasure of being in the audience in Milan I can only say that the sound is natural and believable. Those used to having soloists individually miked may notice the difference here; the impression I have is of surround microphones located somewhere near the front edge of the stage, so that when soloists turn away from the audience the quality of their voices changes in a natural manner. Whereas they blend with the orchestra and chorus, they are neither over-prominent or submerged - Gheorghiu, of course, is well able to project her top notes so as to be always heard.
In general the audience is pretty quiet - there is nothing worse than coughing from the audience as well as Violetta in her death scene - and the most noticeable extraeneous noise is what I take to be air-conditioning just audible in quiet moments between the notes. My comments refer to the DTS-master 7.1 tracks which make good (but not obvious) use of the rear channels (except for the tambourines flourished by the female dancers in the finale to act 2, which wander about sonically).
Comparisons between this recording and the similarly traditional LA opera production on Decca blu-ray are interesting but too lengthy for this review. Suffice it to say that both are excellent; Decca's sound is a little more polished but Arthaus has the appearance of honesty; I'm glad to be able to say that I can enjoy both versions.
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on 20 May 2010
"La Traviata" is my favourite opera so be aware of some prejudice. This copy joins 9 other videos and one CD set (Callas) of the opera. It rarely fails to tear at the heartstrings and gives the lead soprano great opportunities for vocal and emotional display. And the lovely Angela Gheorghiu achieves all this in spades backed up very competently by Ramon Vargas and Robert Frontali. These two male singers perform very well although I would not claim they are the best available but I give full marks to Angela Gheorghiu to be at least as good as Fleming, Gruberova, Netrebo and others. I also have her performing this opera on laserdisc with Domingo where Solti was the conductor but this latest effort eclipses her earlier one.

As we have come to expect from Blu Ray the audio and video are top notch so the glorious orchestra music under Maazel's baton comes through beautifully. It seems this disc is being phased out so is now available at very reasonable prices so if you are tempted, hesitate no longer. Thoroughly recommended.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 31 August 2011
This is a superb value high quality blu-ray both visually and soundwise. The staging and performances match the quality of any you will get on blu-ray with the exception of the Netrebko/Villason version, however the staging of this version is more modern and may not please those who prefer the big dresses, high collars and sumptuous backgrounds which this version provides. Verdi: La Traviata [Blu-ray] [2009] [US Import]
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on 4 October 2010
Despite the low price, this is a remarkable performance of the Opera, with great sound and quite a good picture, although the bitrate is a little low for High Definition.
Certainly it's not the Solti's Traviata, in spite of the presence of Angela Gheorghiu, but it's musically excellent from any point of view.
The stage direction of Liliana Cavani is far from the extravagance of some of her pictures. On the contrary, it is imaginative and fit beautifully the spirit of the opera.
Subtitles in German, French and Spanish, as stated in Amazon information.

The sleeve promises 70 minutes of highlights from operas and ballet. Excerpts mostly of minor opera productions.
Not very interesting.
Excellent Production, though, at a very reasonable price.
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on 26 March 2014
I found this a complete disappointment. The production is good and Maazel and the orchestra are excellent. However, I think the performances do not rise above the routine. Angela Gheorghiu's voice seemed unsuited to the role. She gave the appearance of working hard to no great effect. Ramon Vargos as Alfredo was better, singing and acting reasonably well. Roberto Frontali as Giorgio sang quite well but his acting seemed unconvincing with his eyes often seeming to seek out the conductor.
I will be looking for an alternative blu-rau production.
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