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Verdi La Traviata / Conlon, Fleming, Villazon, Bruson

Verdi / Fleming / Villazon / Laoc / Conlon
Release Date: 10/30/2007 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 001010009  
Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Renato BrusonRolando VillazónRenée Fleming
Conductor:  James Conlon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Los Angeles Opera ChorusLos Angeles Opera Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

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Director: Marta Domingo
Format: Digital Sound, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
Language: Italian
Region: All Regions
Color Mode: Color
Subtitles: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Run Time: 141 minutes

R E V I E W:

Here, in a lavishly Hollywood-worthy (or Franco Zeffirelli-worthy) production by set and costume designer Giovanni Agostinucci, is a star-turn Traviata that will please almost everyone. Despite that Flora's house in Act 2 looks like a New Orleans brothel (for the very, very rich) and the dancing is
Read more commonplace-operatic-dance-sequence, the eye is otherwise pleased. The lavish Act 1 party, apparently on the terrace of Violetta's house, is busy and the guests are well-appointed; Violetta's costumes, from the Met, are gorgeous; her country house is a handsome affair, with big windows and just enough furniture to sit on; and her bedroom for the final act is suitably spooky if just a bit too cavernous given her financial situation. Heaven knows why Marta Domingo, who directed, has a figure in black enter the bedroom after "Addio del passato" and give Violetta a white rose. Yes, we know he signifies death, but it is the production's only note of fantastic imagery and is a distraction.

All of the principals are good actors, and so Domingo's direction, simple and straightforward, is nicely implemented and seems natural. Musically the level is as high as it gets these days. You would like to complain about how Renée Fleming occasionally slows down vocal lines to such an unnatural extent that the melody gets distorted, but her voice is so beautiful and her interpretation so well-conceived that she's easily forgiven. Still, conductor James Conlon, in his only oversight, should keep a closer watch on her lengthy pauses--a mannerism becomes nothing more than a mannerism if used too often. Fleming's coloratura in Act 1 is as impressive as her declamation in the other acts; her pianissimo singing in "Dite alle goivane" and "Addio del passato" is mesmerizing; her gracious bearing-up against the elder Germont has real strength; and her frailty in the final act is utterly credible.

Alfredo is Rolando Villazon, repeating his Salzburg triumph (with Netrebko, also on DVD from DG). His impetuousness, sheer joy in singing, artful concentration, ability to listen to his partner in duets, and wonderful, fluid, burnished sound makes him the Alfredo for this generation. Baritone Renato Bruson, now 70 years old, remains an authoritative, deadly serious, musical Germont, though dry in tone and having pitch problems left and right. The others in the cast are very much "on", clearly realizing that this is a major operatic event. Aside from Maestro Conlon's tendency to indulge Fleming, his leadership has both real zest and real tenderness and the L.A. Opera Orchestra and chorus are in peak form. This is highly recommended, second only to the aforementioned Salzburg performance, which is not only divinely sung but fascinatingly conceived.

--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

La traviata by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Renato Bruson (Baritone), Rolando Villazón (Tenor), Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  James Conlon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Los Angeles Opera Chorus,  Los Angeles Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1853; Italy 

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