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Verdi: La Traviata / Kaiser, Märzendorfer

Verdi / Kaiser / Slovak So / Marzendorfer
Release Date: 09/30/2008 
Label:  Euroarts   Catalog #: 2057218  
Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Daniel OhlenschlägerGeorg TichyMagdalena Anna HofmannMichael Kurz,   ... 
Conductor:  Ernst Märzendorfer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Slovak Philharmonic OrchestraSlovak Philharmonic Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Back Order: Usually ships in 2 to 3 weeks.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Giuseppe Verdi

Violetta Valéry – Kristiane Kaiser
Flora Bervoix – Magdalena Anna Hofmann
Annina – Stefanie Kopinits
Alfredo Germont – Jean-François Borras
Giorgio Germont – Georg Tichy
Gastone – Michael Kurz
Barone Douphol – Daniel Ohlenschläger
Marchese d'Obigny – Dieter Kschwendt-Michel
Dottoer Grenvil – Alessandro Teliga
Giuseppe – Ladislav Hallon
Un commissionario – Eugen Gaal
Un domestic – Attila Galács

Slovak Philharmonic Chorus
Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra
Ernst Märzendorfer, conductor

Robert Herzl, stage director

Read more live at the Römersteinbruch St. Margarethen, 11 July 2008.

Picture format: NTSC 16:9
Sound format: Dolby Digital 2.0 / Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Subtitles: English, German, Italian
Booklet notes: English, German, French
Running time: 134 mins
No. of DVDs: 1 (DVD 9)

R E V I E W:

"Märzendorfer produces yet another clean, crisp, finely drawn reading of the score. (Verdi would have died for a conductor this good in some of his productions.) When Violetta (Kristiane Kaiser) first begins to sing, the voice is slightly off-mike, which produces a beautiful ambience around it. It appears to have a very pretty tone, if a little weak in projection...Our Alfredo, Jean-François Borras, is a shaggy-haired young tenor with the kind of French vibrato I thought had died out with Georges Thill. If you don’t enjoy that kind of sound, you won’t like his performance, but I am much taken with his elegance of phrasing, the likes of which I haven’t heard in many a long year. So far, so good.

As for Violetta’s famous scena at the end of act I, I’ve heard exactly four sopranos on record who sing it with the correct rhythm—Magda Olivero, Gwen Catley, Licia Albanese (in the dress rehearsal, not the performance, with Toscanini), and Ileana Cotrubas—and only one who sang it properly in live performance, and her name was Elisabeth Pruitt. The two traps are in the opening line of the aria “Ah fors’ e lui,” where you must break off the notes and insert rests between them, and in the cabaletta, which contains numerous little shakes and grace notes in the downward phrases. Kaiser, too, sings it right, including both verses of “Ah fors’ e lui,” and on some notes when she opens up the tone, we hear some good power behind the voice. Borras sings his offstage interjections in “Sempre libera” more beautifully than I’ve ever heard them done in my life, and Kaiser also sticks to the score by omitting the traditional high E? at the end. Verdi would have been proud of her, and I am, too.

Act II arrives on the impassioned wings of Borras’s “Lunge da lei … De’ miei bollenti spiriti,” and I’ve not heard a more exquisite performance in ages. His singing here reminded me of Fernando de Lucia’s elegant, impassioned interpretation, but without de Lucia’s distortions of phrase and tempo. This is, indeed, bel canto at its best, but Herzl has him singing it to a friend over sips of brandy, rather than a soliloquy to himself as the libretto directs. Oh, one other thing: In both the Aida and Nabucco, I notice that all the singers have these little things that looked like tassels hanging down their foreheads, but I thought they were part of their “ancient” costumes. It wasn’t until Traviata that the penny dropped: Those are the mikes! (I wonder if the wires in back of them are implanted in their heads?)

Alfredo departs and Giorgio Germont arrives in the person of Georg Tichy. Thank goodness, thought I, we’ve finally rid ourselves of Igor Morosow. Unfortunately, Tichy isn’t an upgrade. He’s just as wobbly, and worse, his voice production is muffled because he swallows his consonants. Oh, well, just when I thought I’d found a first-rate video Traviata, here’s the fly in the ointment. Ironically, Kaiser sings even more splendidly here than in act I, being both touching and musically accurate. Can’t the Austrians come up with one good baritone? It really is a crying shame to have one of the three major roles ruin an otherwise superb Traviata, but there is no way I can listen to this guy again, except under duress. Märzendorfer also conducts well in act II, scene 2.

If you think Kaiser and Borras are good in the first two acts—and they are—they’ll break your heart in act III. Everything is perfect: the singing, the conducting, the mood. Again, Kaiser sings both verses of her aria (“Addio del passato”), and her performance here is on a par with the best: Muzio, Callas, Moffo. (Two more dumb ideas from director Herzl, though: The opening lines of “Teneste la promessa” are read from offstage by Tichy instead of by Kaiser, and the “outside” carnival music—and dancers—actually, physically, invade her deathbed.) “Parigi, o cara” is sung with an elegance I’ve not heard since McCormack-Bori and a rhythmic acuity I’ve not heard since Toscanini. Kaiser’s death scene is both touching and realistic."

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

La traviata by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Daniel Ohlenschläger (Tenor), Georg Tichy (Baritone), Magdalena Anna Hofmann (Soprano),
Michael Kurz (Tenor), Stefanie Kopinits (Soprano), Jean-François Borras (Tenor),
Kristiane Kaiser (Soprano)
Conductor:  Ernst Märzendorfer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra,  Slovak Philharmonic Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1853; Italy 
Date of Recording: 07/11/2008 
Venue:  Römersteinbruch St. Margarethen 

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