Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful.
I resisted the updating of the opera to modern times and the big clock seemed over-done. However this is a very complete, the most complete Traviatat I've ever seen or heard; all the caballetas are included and all the repeats. It's also very sexy with the second act displaying the lovers in their underwear....not a bad display with such attractive artists. Thomas Hampson is very dramatic and convincing as Pere Germont. Of course the updating works against the drama....who in our age would object to the ties between the lovers....there's no bourgeoisie in our world. In the end the big clock is used as a gambling table; not a bad idea.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful.
Good but could be better
While I generally do not like opera productions that stray too far from the composer’s time setting, much of this production makes musical and emotional sense. I do think that the androgynous dress is a bit over the top, however. Also, while this record is of the original Decker Viennese production, I felt that it lacked the emotional “punch” of the 2013 NY production with Diana Damrau, Plácido Domingo (WOW! The baritone gets better billing & applause than the tenor), & Saimir Pirgu. There were a lot of wet eyes at the end of that production, unlike my reaction to this one. Perhaps if I had not seen the Met production first, this one might have more stars.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful. See all 100 customer reviews...
The minimalism pierces with laser precision to the essence of Verdi's masterpiece!
This production pierces with laser precision to the very essence of Verdi's masterpiece! Powerful and Masterfully executed! The chemistry between Villazon, Netrebko and Hampson was mezmerizing! The brilliance of Decker utilizing minimalism with a contemporary set allowed me for the first time to focus solely on the music, the drama and the tragedy unfolding in front of me. The incredible emotional experience was utterly draining! I have seen perhaps 6 different versions of this opera with everything from a fully modern set to the over-ornate baroque and always I was somewhat distracted by the elaborate costuming and sets to fully engage with the actors. Unadorned of all this, the emotional power of the singers to embody their characters was all that was left to pull you into their suffering and heartbreak. Anna Netrebko had me weeping for her sacrifice; Villazon, passionate with his love for Violetta and Hampson for the grief of a father over a beloved son. Their singing was superb! Anna with her bell like clarity and coloratura was nimble and precise;Hampson's baritone equally agile and exhibits his years of experience with a reputation as a perfectionist. Hampson drives home in his Master Classes the importance inhabiting the character not just John Doe baritone playing the part of Germont. He became the man on stage and it was heartbreaking. I own three different productions of La Traviata including the traditional production by the Los Angeles Opera that Villazon did with Renee Fleming and did not realize how much of an emotional experience I missed until I watched this version! His portrayal with Fleming lacked the chemistry that he and Netrebko have, mainly because Fleming appeared to be just a little too old for the twenty something Villazon. Fleming's portrayal of Violetta was stunning and gave me goosebumps but when they were in-scene together it was more about lack of chemistry than individual performance. On this production Villazon's Alfredo was beautifully executed His lush warm tenor and gorgeous stage presence makes him eye-candy equal to Anna's beauty and the chemistry between them made it that much more rewarding. Villazon is good at being a lover on stage. Of all the human emotions to portray on stage, falling in love and being in love is the most difficult to project covincingly. In Opera its more than just physically acting the role. Performers are tasked with the added artistic burden of acting the role in voice. The musical voice is a complicated and taxing actor in the drama. Villazon embodies the nuances of love: falling in love; the tenderness and loyalty of being in love and its torment when placed in complex situations; of the hard choices when one loves someone so completely. He does this better than any operatic actor on the stage right now and with such a diverse line up of co-stars and themes. The only disappointment in this production was Decker's interpretation of how the final scene of Violetta dying would be played out. I was confused more than anything. For having been so successful up to that point in stripping away the unnecessary to zero in on the the powerful emotions in the story, the ending blew apart the intimacy that had built up between the characters and the audience and became cold. Perhaps death is supposed to be that way, cold. It seemed too austere, devoid of the intimacy that the reconciliation of her final minutes were supposed to portray in her death scene. Annina was supposed to be lovingly reassuring her and nursing her on her death-bed, summoning the Doctor, keeping her comfortable physically and comforting her emotionally when Violetta reflects that she will pass away unnoticed by the world, there will be no one to eulogize her passing no one to place a marker on her grave as she had no one in the world except Alfredo and he is gone too. Instead, Decker had Netrebko walking and staggering around on the stage when she was supposed to be gaunt, lifeless, at the very end of her strength, too weak to get out of bed, minutes from dying. The rest of the characters were supposed to be at her side to comfort her. Instead, Annina her faithful servant sat a long way, across the stage from her and was not to rush to Violetta's side when she stirs from her delirium and asks for a sip of water. When Violetta finally sees Alfredo he is supposed to be cradling her in his arms for most of the scene as she goes in and out of consciousness and has visions of her better days as well as says her final goodbyes, content now that the very ones she loves the most in the world are there at her side. Instead, Decker has Alfredo, Annina and the elder Germont saying their reconciliations seated at least 10 feet away from her and each other. Violetta sings her final notes and then abruptly drops to the floor dead, all alone in the middle of the stage. Perhaps the interpretation was symbolic, that the space, the distance between each character's position symbolized the great separation that is the finality of death and that everyone has to go there alone. After the tremendous emotional ride I went on with these characters up to the final scene, it was anti-climatic that all of these characters would experience her death "alone" If Willy Decker did not want to direct a traditional ending then perhaps if he had "Death" (I presume the big silent guy in the room symbolized Death watching her living out her final days) carry her off and out those big doors the symbolism would have been more evident and at least there would have been a sense of an physical contact in her final minute. Oh well, it was still worth adding this one to my opera library. I highly recommend it!