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Verdi: La Traviata / Pretre, Caballe, Bergonzi, Milnes

Release Date: 10/04/2005 
Label:  Rca Victor Red Seal Catalog #: 70778   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Gene BoucherDorothy KrebillFlavio TasinCamillo Sforza,   ... 
Conductor:  Georges Prętre
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Italian Opera OrchestraRCA Italian Opera Chorus
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 6 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is an Enhanced CD, which contains both regular audio tracks and multimedia computer files.
This is a DSD (Direct Stream Digital) recording
All tracks have been digitally mastered using 24-bit technology.

This recording is a reissue, having first been issued on LP and subsequently also on CD; therefore, I am taking the liberty of repeating myself. In 1998, I reviewed a recording of La traviata in which I informed the reader that the very first opera I saw was La traviata performed by the prestigious San Francisco Opera Company in Los Read more Angeles. In those days, the San Francisco Opera was justly called Metropolitan Opera West. Being a 17-year-old neophyte, without musical training or interest at that time in reading scores, I naturally assumed that the opera that I was seeing was the opera that Verdi had written. It was sometime later that I acquired a recording of Alfredo’s aria sung in German by the Danish tenor Helge Roswaenge and was surprised to hear music that was not performed in those days, since Roswaenge sings one verse of the cabaletta, albeit in German. Gradually I became aware that in those days the older bel canto operas were being subjected to musical butchery.

It wasn’t until 1963 that a complete recording was issued by Decca, featuring Joan Sutherland, Carlo Bergonzi, and Robert Merrill, conducted by John Pritchard. This recording dates from 1967 and was the second one to include both usually cut cabalettas for Alfredo and Germont, and particularly the second verse of the last act duet cabaletta, “Grand Dio morir si giovane.” Only complete recordings of La traviata do justice to Verdi’s genius. I agree with Henry Fogel, who stated in Fanfare 12:4, “Every serious opera collection should have at least two sets—one of Maria Callas’s performances, and one uncut version. . . . The RCA set with Caballé, Bergonzi, and Milnes gets my vote as the finest uncut Traviata.

All three singers are excellent. Caballé is dramatically involved and vocally brilliant. Bergonzi is an ideal Alfredo, and Milnes is excellent. Some critics have not liked Prêtre’s conducting, but he supports the singers well. The minor roles are not particularly well sung, some just barely competent. The Decca set mentioned above is the closest competition for a complete version. A later version with Sutherland along with Pavarotti and Bonynge conducting is available, but she is better in the earlier recording.

The sound on this release is very good; no notes. Access to a libretto is provided on the second disc if played on a CD-ROM drive on a computer. Again I state that this complete version is the best, and if one does not have it, buy it!

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Works on This Recording

La traviata by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Gene Boucher (Baritone), Dorothy Krebill (Mezzo Soprano), Flavio Tasin (Baritone),
Camillo Sforza (Tenor), Thomas Jamerson (Baritone), Montserrat Caballé (Soprano),
Carlo Bergonzi (Tenor), Sherrill Milnes (Baritone), Harold Enns (Bass),
Nancy Stokes (Soprano), Fernando Iacopucci (Tenor), Franco Ruta (Bass)
Conductor:  Georges Prętre
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra,  RCA Italian Opera Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1853; Italy 
Date of Recording: 06/1967 
Venue:  RCA Italiana Studios, Rome, Italy 
Language: Italian 

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