Verdi: La Traviata / Temirkanov, Vassileva, Trevisan, Pini, Giordano, Stoyanov [blu-ray]

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Giuseppe Verdi
(Blu-ray Disc Version)

Violetta Valéry – Svetla Vassileva
Flora Bervoix – Daniela Pini
Annina – Antonella Trevisan
Alfredo Germont – Massimo Giordano
Giorgio Germont – Vladimir Stoyanov
Gastone – Gianluca Floris
Barone Douphol – Armando Gabba
Marchese d’Obigny – Filippo Polinelli
Dottore Grenvil – Roberto Tagliavini
Giuseppe – Iorio Zennaro
Un domestico di Flora – Roberto Scandura
Un commissionario – Matteo Mazzoli

Parma Teatro Regio Chorus and Orchestra
(chorus master: Martino Faggiani)
Yuri Temirkanov, conductor

Karl-Ernst Herrmann and Ursel Hermann, stage directors
Karl-Ernst Herrmann, set, costume, and lighting designer

Recorded live at the Teatro Regio di Parma, 9, 13, 15 October 2007

- Introduction to La Traviata

Picture format: 1080i High Definition
Sound format: PCM Stereo 2.0 / DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Subtitles: Italian, English, German, French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Japanese
Running time: 133 mins (opera) + 11 mins (bonus)
No. of Discs: 1 (BD 50)

R E V I E W: 3713200.az_VERDI_La_Yuri.html

VERDI La traviata & Yuri Temirkanov, cond; Svetla Vassileva (Violetta); Massimo Giordano (Alfredo); Vladimir Stoyanov (Germont); Daniela Pini (Flora); Roberto Tagliavini (Grenvil); Parma Teatro Regio O & Ch C MAJOR 723704 (Blu-ray: 133:00 opera + 11:00 bonus) Live: Parma 2007

& Introduction to La traviata

The Tutto Verdi project cycle of releases has now reached the gold nuggets of mid-career Verdi operas, beginning with the three blockbusters, Rigoletto, Il trovatore, and La traviata. The project has been a multi-year effort involving several organizations to stage and record all of Verdi’s works for the theater on high definition Blu-ray disc. Although several were recorded earlier, all of the video recordings are being released in 2013, the 200th anniversary of the composer’s birth. It has been my expectation that the relatively small, and relatively small-budgeted Parma house might encounter some difficulty keeping up with the high level of competition in these more popular and more often recorded operas. My fears are at least partially allayed by the release of this quite entertaining new La traviata production, actually recorded in 2007, in the early days of the series.

German Stage Director Karl Ernst has designed some quite traditional and attractive sets, especially for the party scenes at Violetta’s and Flora’s houses, with plush accoutrements and plenty of red velvet. The romantic hideaway in act II is set quite effectively in a cottage with large rear windows overlooking a frozen lake shore. Act III is a reprise of the act I set with a sick bed now dominating the room. Costumes are also handsome and traditional. The stage direction itself, co-directed by Ernst and his wife, Ursel Herrmann, begins the proceedings during the prelude with several well-dressed gentlemen lounging about Violetta’s front room as she flirts suggestively with them. Another gentleman enters and puts some money down on the mantle and you realize these are Violetta’s customers. Forgive me if I err, but it has always been my understanding Violetta is a kept woman, not a prostitute, a small distinction perhaps, in the pantheon of human vices, but at least she should not need a waiting room. She uses one of the bills to light her cigarette, then tosses the rest into the fire. The change from the quite whorish acting Violetta in act I to the chaste and demure love-bird in act II is rendered much more jarring in this fashion, and perhaps stretches one’s credulity.

La traviatta is Violetta’s opera. Yes, the two Germonts, father and son, hover about, but it is Verdi’s most inspired tragic heroine who carries the show and whom we return to see, time and time again. She is vivacious and sparkling in act I, deeply in love and then devastated when she realizes she must renounce her love in act II, and dying in act III. It takes a very special singing actress to do this role full justice. In this C Major set we are given young and charming Svetla Vassileva as our Violetta. She sings it quite well, providing all the vocal fireworks in act I, the pathos in act II, and the heartbreaking drama of act III. She also looks good in the part and makes the sexy by-play quite convincing. I criticized Vasseleva’s singing on another set in this Tutto Verdi series, Giovanna d’Arco (recorded a year later), where I thought her singing was substandard. She was reportedly under the weather at those performances, but her singing is quite good here, and my opinion has changed, much for the better. If not perhaps in the very top rank of sopranos on traviata videos, she provides a fully fleshed-out Violetta, one that is quite charming and compelling to watch. Disappointingly, the Alfredo of Massimo Giordano is another matter. Giordano is so busy ducking high notes it’s a wonder he has any time for Violetta. He sings entire passages in a lower register, especially in act I. Giordano sounds good enough singing like that, he just doesn’t sound like Alfredo, and when he assays the higher range, he quickly exhibits some distress. His act II cabaletta has the second verse cut, it might have been kinder to cut the whole thing. Perhaps, the best singing heard on this set is the Papa Germont of baritone Vladimir Stoyanov. Stoyanov looks a bit young to be Alfredo’s daddy, and his three-day scraggly growth of facial hair is certainly inappropriate for a conservative country father going visiting, but he has a fine Verdian baritone voice. His act II singing is a highlight, even though his cabaletta late in the act is also cut. Smaller roles are filled more than adequately and the Parma orchestra and chorus, as usual, perform Verdi’s music very well. Russian guest conductor Yuri Temirkanov, here deftly leading from the pit, was later to be named Parma’s musical director. There is a sound quality issue with this early set in the series, fixed placement mikes are apparently used without body mikes for the singers. While this may give the performance a more natural in-the-hall ambience, it also often means the orchestra sounds too loud and overwhelms the singers. There is also an annoying reverberant acoustic heard much of the time not present on other sets in the series.

La traviata is one of the most recorded operas in the repertoire. On video as on CD, there are many fine choices of available performances. The two video sets featuring Angela Gheorghiu both provide much to enjoy as do others, in particular, with Anna Netrebko, Renée Fleming, Natalie Dessay, and Patrizia Ciofi in the starring role. From an earlier generation we also have a young Anna Moffo proving why Violetta was one of her signature roles, but to my mind none of them top the classic Zeffirelli film with Plácido Domingo and Teresa Stratas. For me, Stratas is Violetta, period. There are now seven or eight of the videos on Blu-ray disc, including this Tutto Verdi entry. While the Parma set is quite enjoyable to watch in high definition, and features a pair of quite good lead singers, it ultimately cannot displace any of the top sets mentioned above. You may want it as a second or third production to watch, it has its moments.

FANFARE: Bill White

Product Description:

  • Release Date: April 30, 2013

  • UPC: 814337012373

  • Catalog Number: 723704

  • Label: C Major

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Composer: Giuseppe Verdi

  • Conductor: Yuri Temirkanov

  • Performer: Antonella Trevisan, Armando Gabba, Daniela Pini, Filippo Polinelli, Gianluca Floris, Massimo Giordano, Svetla Vassileva, Vladimir Stoyanov