19 July 2012 | TheLittleSongbird
Beautifully rendered and sung and very moving
Ever since hearing the Pritchard recording with Sutherland, Bergonzi and Merrill, I have always adored the opera La Traviata. The story never fails to touch me and the music, especially in the second act with Di Provenza and especially Ditte Alla Guivine, is some of Verdi's most beautiful. Whether this is my favourite version I am not sure, I have always loved Zeffirelli's film as well as the Anna Moffo version and the 2006, 1992 and 1981(as part of the Metropolitan Opera Presents series) performances. But I do think it is a lovely production, with the elegant costumes and sets it is very beautifully mounted visually and helped by the unobtrusive and effective camera work.
The orchestral playing has the lushness, poetry and pathos the score should have, the chorus sing with good balance and character and Alexander Gibson's conducting is solid. The staging is careful but never dull, all the key scenes have the impact they should do. Elizabeth Harwood is an exceptional Violetta, dramatically vulnerable and never self-pitying and vocally firm and warm we are always moved by her. Sempre Libera is sung with much verve, and her Addio Del Passato is very affecting.
John Brecknock may not have the most Italianate of sounds, but nonetheless sings with much style and assurance, and while he is not one of my favourite Alfredos from an acting standpoint I did at least feel some of the thrilling and moving quality of Alfredo's character. Norman Bailey's Germont is just wonderful, he sings richly and gives this father figure the stern and sympathetic quality he needs. Of the support cast, Alan Opie stands out as Baron Douphol, with his sonorous baritone he sings very well and is delightfully foppish in a role that is easy to do little with.
All in all, a very well done Traviata. 9/10 Bethany Cox