Opera News/ Mai 2006
Verdi: La Traviata, Metropolitan Opera House, February 2006
NEW YORK CITY – La Traviata, Metropolitan Opera, 2/4/06
After artistic differences, illnesses and other announced holdups, on February 4 Angela Gheorghiu finally assumed the role of Violetta in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1998 re-mounting of La Traviata. The production, originally conceived for the Romanian diva, features lush, gorgeous period interiors for Violetta’s townhouse and country villa, although Flora appears to have rented a glitzy Vegas showroom (complete with showers of pink and purple sequins) for her trashy soirée. The Met’s stage elevator receives a nice round of applause when Violetta rises from her deathbed to descend once more her grand staircase, as her salon, now cobwebbed and covered with tarps, revolves into view.

New costumes by Raimonda Gaetani for Gheorghiu — a long rose-red duster, which the soprano removed with some difficulty before “Sempre libera,” and, later, a beige tea-gown with huge ugly roses — jar with the scenic palette, although a Mexican wedding dress (complete with mantilla) perfectly complements Flora’s dancing bulls.

Moving naturally and creating believable relationships, all three leads possess ample musicianship and stage smarts. While Gheorghiu’s Violetta seems a hyperkinetic teenager in Act I, bopping all over the set and splashing a lot of champagne, her characterization avoids sentimentality by maintaining a feisty steeliness one might expect in a “working girl.” Gheorghiu’s slender, dense voice doesn’t always fill the house, but the tone is consistently glamorous, and she handles the role’s notorious vocal demands with intelligent pacing and stylistic command. Conductor Marco Armiliato provided speedy tempos, yet often the soprano seemed to be pressing for an even quicker pace.

Tenor Jonas Kaufmann made an impressive house debut as Alfredo, with a warm, baritonal sound and brooding good looks. Even though his covered top notes lack an Italianate ring, he is not afraid to sing with nuance or to explore the lower end of the dynamic spectrum, and his conversational delivery and naturalness of phrasing were most attractive.

Anthony Michaels-Moore’s Italian has improved over the years, but it is still unacceptable in an international house. His voice projects well (which seems to be the baritone’s primary concern), but the sound is unattractive, although he brought unaccustomed subtlety to “Di Provenza.”

The Met’s chorus offered fine work, and the orchestral playing, especially the delicate opening of Act III, was top-notch.

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