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Thread: My favorite version of " La traviata"

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarkAngel View Post
    No no.........keep up your comments, our darling draculette needs her supporters to fend off these cruel blows inflicted on this forum ( I try to support Angela when warranted)

    Many times someone with less pre-conceptions and bias can hear things fresh and make some very valid interesting observations.
    Thanks for the encouragement, I will rush to your support whenever needed.

    I only have this one DVD with AG, and for me the most important name on the cover is really the stage director, I normally don't care so very much about the precise cast.

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    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarkAngel View Post
    No no.........keep up your comments, our darling draculette needs her supporters to fend off these cruel blows inflicted on this forum ( I try to support Angela when warranted)

    Many times someone with less pre-conceptions and bias can hear things fresh and make some very valid interesting observations.
    My comment meant no harm. I also bought that cheap version, and was underwhelmed, that's all. I did not approach it with any pre-conceptions, I just watched it, and thought it wasn't that good. So, it is cheap, but in the bangs for bucks department, I think it costs few bucks but delivers few bangs. I have nothing against a buy that costs few bucks and delivers lots of bangs (much the opposite, and I always chase those deals, I buy used, etc), but this particular one in my humble opinion wasn't one of those. Sometimes something is cheap for a reason.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Almaviva View Post
    Sometimes something is cheap for a reason.
    Couldn't agree more, generally speaking (even with "sometimes" -> "usually").

    In this particular case, though, I have a hard time believing that the good folks at Arthaus Musik got embarrassed about the artistic quality of their product and decided that they can't possibly ask for more than $9.99 for this blu-ray disk. (You can actually buy it at $30.- also, in a different edition.) Also, the production, at La Scala and with the likes of Gheorghiu, Vargas, Maazel can't have been so much cheaper than other productions that you can buy at 50 bucks.

    The more obvious explanation, my dear Watson, seems to be that they judged this the perfect product to get novices addicted to opera DVDs (have you noticed the huge bonus section on the disk, which is basically an advertisement for their other products).

    Of course, it's still perfectly alright not to like the performance.
    Last edited by Gualtier Malde; Nov-28-2010 at 18:09. Reason: I won't tell.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gualtier Malde View Post
    (have you noticed the huge bonus section on the disk, which is basically an advertisement for their other products).
    As a matter of fact I have, and considered the bonus section as one of the reasons to buy the disc when I first saw it advertised. I've bought compilations for more than that before, so I thought, "OK, ten bucks for a compilation of dozens of arias, and in addition to this, I get another version of La Traviata, what's not to like?" But I was even more disappointed with the bonus section. Gee, what a bunch of ugly people singing in most of those tracks!

    Your explanation for the price is probably the correct one. But it backfired on them, at least for me. I thought that the bonus section made me fell like NOT buying their other products.

    As for the performance itself, it is OK, but not great; again, in my humble opinion. I thought that Angela wasn't at her best, and Vargas was sort of cold. And I can't say that I like Maazel. But there's nothing wrong with liking that production. La Traviata is such a good opera that it is enticing even when the production is just OK. But there are better versions, that's all that I was trying to tell you.
    Last edited by Almaviva; Nov-28-2010 at 18:39.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Almaviva View Post
    But I was even more disappointed with the bonus section. Gee, what a bunch of ugly people singing in most of those tracks!

    Your explanation for the price is probably the correct one. But it backfired on them, at least for me. I thought that the bonus section made me fell like NOT buying their other products.
    I'm 100% with you on this one, I thought "boy, am I glad they warned me about these Eurotrashy aberrations, now I won't have to waste any money on any of these."

    As for the other thing, let's perhaps leave matters at that for now. Of course, it's quite possible that I will like other performances still better once I've seen them, but this (getting other versions) is not high on my priority list. There's something about this opera that prevents it from touching me as deeply as some others do, even though I find the music heavenly. Probably it's the absurd plot development in the second act.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gualtier Malde View Post
    Probably it's the absurd plot development in the second act.
    Analyzing myself further, that's indeed what somewhat spoils this opera for me. During the second act, you just can't help thinking "oh, come on, just give old dad a kick in the bottom and everything will be fine."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gualtier Malde View Post
    Analyzing myself further, that's indeed what somewhat spoils this opera for me. During the second act, you just can't help thinking "oh, come on, just give old dad a kick in the bottom and everything will be fine."
    But things are a lot more complex, and this is part of why this opera is so good. Violetta is a prostitute, she feels guilty and embarrassed although she tries her best to convince herself of the opposite in the first act, rejecting love and offering pleasure. Then when she finally gets a guy to love her, she feels deep inside that she doesn't deserve it, because she is tainted, she is "traviata" like she sings in the second act. Likely her straying into the demi-mondaine life had already something to do with her personal story. Then she gets this father figure and he starts to push all her buttons, sings of the angelic sister of her beloved who will be unhappy forever because her fiancé won't marry a woman whose brother lives with a prostitute. Violetta knows that she is sick and doesn't have a long life ahead of her. She decides to comply as a sort of redemption through her altruism. She also may have some twisted, self-destructive attraction to her former life and she goes back to her former "daddy." She probably thinks - "this is all that I'm good for anyway." Not to forget that Giorgio has a lot of authority over Alfredo, so kicking his butt wasn't really an option for Violetta.

    Verdi's personal life at the time had a big influence in his picking Alexandre Dumas, fils' novel (actually the play adapted from the novel) to set it to music. The first time someone mentioned this possibility to him, Verdi, a conservative man, replied that it wasn't proper for the operatic genre to put a prostitute on stage as the leading female. Why did he change his mind? Because he was living with Giuseppina Strepponi in Bussetto, a small and conservative community. It turns out that other women in Bussetto society shunned Giuseppina (who had a less than reputable past and at some point when younger did prostitute herself as well). These local women used to leave a room every time Giuseppina walked in. This enraged Verdi, who went out to prove that even ex-prostitutes could have a heart. He liked the story of self-sacrifice in Dumas' play, which depicts Violetta as a very good person.

    I don't think that the plot of La Traviata is preposterous. You need to transport yourself to the time when the story is happening. These demi-mondaines were used to being abused and pushed around by their rich patrons. When Giorgio Germont shows up, Violetta first tries to react with pride, saying that she is the mistress of the house. Little by little her resolve crumbles (this happens along four arias in which Germont keeps changing strategy and pushing different buttons), and she resumes the behavior that is consistent whit what she had always done before meeting Alfredo: that she must bow her head to the demands of a rich male.

    The musical structure of this long dialogue between Giorgio Germont and Violetta is very well crafted, like everything in this opera. The kind of melody evolves with the evolution of the dialogue and the different strategies employed by the contenders. Violetta is first proud, then halting what is being asked of her sinks in, then sorrowful, while Germont evolves as well, from harsh and judgmental to pleading to pitiful. When both reach the equivalent state - sorrowful and pitiful - they start to sing in unison, while before they were singing with antagonistic styles.

    Another interesting contrast is the melancholic music in the second act versus the party music in the first act. The magisterial overture introduces all the leitmotifs that will be developed later, but in reverse order, starting with her death. This is the order of play adapted from Dumas' novel - it starts with Violetta's death (Marguerite in the novel) then it tells the story in flashbacks. Verdi and Piave (his librettist) opted for a linear timeline, but then, in the overture he brings back the reversed timeline of the play.

    Another interesting aspect is the impetuous, juvenile music for Alfredo versus the traditionalist, "square" music he writes for Giorgio, notably in Di Provenza il mar il sol, in which the phrases keep being repeated in reverse order, causing a really square spatial configuration. This kind of tone painting is evident as well in the swirling music when the revellers want to drag Violetta back to the crazy life of the demi-monde in the first act: it plays like a tourbillon, a whirlpool.

    These and many other details make of this opera an extraordinary creation, by a brilliant composer in full mastery of his trade.

    In terms of historical importance, this opera sits on the border between belcanto and verismo, and between number operas and written through operas (observe that its music is a lot more continuous than that in his previous numbers operas, and it is generally organized in *scenes* of four arias each, rather than in isolated arias. The fact that it is an opera seria but with commoners as characters is another landmark.

    Verdi wanted this opera to hit the hearts of the public, he wanted them to identify themselves with what was going on on stage. He said he wanted to compose an opera about "a current topic" - "un soggeto d'attualita". He wanted the people on stage to be depicted as living in the same world as the people in the audience. That's why it is *not* preposterous to stage La Traviata in a modern setting. That's why you should give the production that I recommended a try - it is *not* Eurotrash, it is elegantly done, and *extremely* good.

    Somehow I suspect that once you see this Salzburg 2005 production (if you follow my suggestion) it will blow away your enthusiasm for the Georghiu-Vargas-Maaze production. Not to forget how much of an eye candy Anna Netrebko is in that production, she is at her sexiest looks ever. This in itself (you have to see it to believe it) more than compensates for any objection you may have to the minimalist setting and modern costumes.
    Last edited by Almaviva; Nov-28-2010 at 21:33.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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  9. #23
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    Wow, you've definitely done your homework on this one, interesting points, thanks.

    Still, ideally, I want an opera to grip me emotionally, and this one just doesn't resonate with me the same way others do (that said, I still do like it a lot). I really can't explain it any better that I already tried to, and there isn't much logic to it. For example, Rigoletto with its outrageous plot if there ever was one I find totally captivating.

    On the other hand, I would be the first to admit that my current favorite, Der Rosenkavalier, perhaps isn't for everyone either; I believe you have to have some feel for what "Wiener Gemuetlichkeit" means in your genes to fully appreciate this one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gualtier Malde View Post
    Wow, you've definitely done your homework on this one, interesting points, thanks.
    Yep, I once wrote a Power Point presentation on this opera just for domestic purposes (to introduce my son and his girlfriend to opera, then to do the same for two different groups of friends) so I did study it a lot.

    On the other hand, I would be the first to admit that my current favorite, Der Rosenkavalier, perhaps isn't for everyone either
    I think that au contraire, Der Rosenkavalier is very much appreciated. See, it made 9th place in our top-100, and it places highly in other lists as well. I love it, and own three versions of it (still less than my five versions of La Traviata).
    Last edited by Almaviva; Nov-28-2010 at 21:34.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Alma - have you seen this?

    [YT]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxJ0chrN7O8&feature=related[/YT]
    Ann

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    Quote Originally Posted by Almaviva View Post
    I think that au contraire, Der Rosenkavalier is very much appreciated. See, it made 9th place in our top-100, and it places high in other lists as well. I love it, and own three versions of it (still less than my five versions of La Traviata).
    You're way ahead of me here, I only have one DVD currently (the Covent Garden performance with Kiri Te Kanawa as the Marschallin), plus a CD with excerpts (Karajan, Schwarzkopf). For me, this one is actually already close to perfection, but the opera is soooo beautiful, it's tempting to get other versions too. Maybe the Kleiber from Munich you recommended somewhere else here and/or the newly (re-)released Czinner film...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gualtier Malde View Post
    You're way ahead of me here, I only have one DVD currently (the Covent Garden performance with Kiri Te Kanawa as the Marschallin), plus a CD with excerpts (Karajan, Schwarzkopf). For me, this one is actually already close to perfection, but the opera is soooo beautiful, it's tempting to get other versions too. Maybe the Kleiber from Munich you recommended somewhere else here and/or the newly (re-)released Czinner film...
    Can't go wrong with the Kleiber.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Almaviva View Post
    Somehow I suspect that once you see this Salzburg 2005 production (if you follow my suggestion) it will blow away your enthusiasm for the Georghiu-Vargas-Maaze production. Not to forget how much of an eye candy Anna Netrebko is in that production, she is at her sexiest looks ever. This in itself (you have to see it to believe it) more than compensates for any objection you may have to the minimalist setting and modern costumes.
    I suspect too that seeing the Fleming/Villazon Traviata will blow away your enthusiasm for the Salzburg production, cause vocally Netrebko is nothing special and even Georghiu (whom I consider to be nothing special either) is probably better than her.

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    Quote Originally Posted by scytheavatar View Post
    I suspect too that seeing the Fleming/Villazon Traviata will blow away your enthusiasm for the Salzburg production, cause vocally Netrebko is nothing special and even Georghiu (whom I consider to be nothing special either) is probably better than her.
    Anna in the Salzburg Traviata is not at her vocal best, granted. That's why I said that vocally I prefer Beverly Sills, but in looks I prefer Anna. One of the problems for the singer in the Salzburg Traviata is that the production is very physical. Anna said in interviews that she hates listening to the CD recording of that production (recorded live) because she is short of breath the whole time and trying unsuccessfuly to control her breathing, because what is required of her as an actress on stage is "hard work" as she puts it. She sings upside down, jumping around, and so forth. Not easy to do.

    And also, the Salzburg production was before she had her baby and gained some weight. Anna herself and critics agree that her voice has improved after the pregnancy; it became darker and fuller.

    I think that the usual idea that Anna looks great but isn't such a good singer is being put more and more to rest. She has improved in her technique, and is these days a very accomplished singer.

    Besides, singing, although the most important aspect, is not all in the career of a soprano. Stage presence and acting are also important, and Anna in my opinion is the most gifted soprano of her generation in terms of these two characteristics. While her singing is not the best in her generation, for me her stage presence and acting are. I think that only Miah Persson and Renée Fleming can rival Anna in these two characteristics (maybe Nina Stemme can as well, but her repertoire is completely different so they're not really competitors). Oh, and Danielle di Niese - but again, she is a baroque specialist, not Anna's turf.

    I don't doubt that Renée's La Traviata must be fabulous, since I believe Renée overall is actually the best soprano currently in activity. But I do doubt that it will blow away Anna's performance in my esteem. I'll probably enjoy it as well, but I won't stop enjoying Anna's.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Default La Traviata....Turandot...

    I alway remember when Ping Pang Pong say that Turandot "non esiste" (doesn't exist).

    For me Traviata non esiste.

    Martin

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