Certainly that was my impression during Act I of this production with its succession of soprano tours de force. Here Dessay's brilliant dramatic ability comes to the fore and the music in these two acts is much more suited to her voice. Her Addio, del passato as she is dying is probably the most moving I have ever heard.
Basically Dessay has to carry these two acts on her own. Her Alfredo is Matthew Polenzani, a pleasant enough tenor with the acting ability of a sack of potatoes. Germont Pere is sung by Dmitri Hvorostovsky who is as stiff as a plank of wood and also does not seem to be able to get into the idiom. The production, by Willy Decker, was originally seen in Salzburg in It is bonkers in the way that only Salzburg opera can be. The set looks like a semicircular concrete underpass. There is not much else apart from a large clock and a red plastic sofa.
The two scenes of Act II and the whole of Act III are played continuously so there is no feeling of going from the lovers' villa to the party in Paris and then to Violetta's death. It all takes place in the underpass so even Violetta's deathbed scene is played standing up.
The party scene is particularly risible with the action continually playing against the text. In this scene the clock has to become a roulette wheel so, instead of betting on the seven, Alfredo has to bet on seven o'clock. It is a tribute to Natalie Dessay's considerable ability as a singer and as an actress that she is able to turn this travesty of a production into a personal triumph.
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Met Opera on Demand. Maybe this is appropriate for Violetta.
His heroism to stand up in front of an audience while his vocal apparatus repeatedly failed him, according to this argument, sort of put the Helden- in Heldentenor. An opera can have these moments, but it also has a narrative arc that extends through the evening.
End theoretical digression. And a Violetta whose sole affect is fragility is too one-sided an interpretation to convince me. Matthew Polenzani sang Alfredo wonderfully, with inventive phrasing and consistent beauty of tone. Vocally, he has the range of about a fourth in his voice that sounds just spectacular, from around an A to a D at the top of the staff.
La traviata continues through May 2.
Met Opera La Traviata review
I love that you bring in Abbate here! We've had Polenzani only once in SF, where he was a breathtakingly beautiful Belmonte.
He is back this coming season…in Hoffman with Dessay. Perhaps she will be taken ill for all of June, The E Flat wasn't! He hasn't got any difficoulties in the lower and upper register… I think that I won't read your blog anymore….
Which, yes. But I don't see why it always has to be a dichotomy between the two levels—seems to me like the two are in constant interaction…. April 19, 4 Comments. Share this: Click to share on Twitter Opens in new window Click to share on Facebook Opens in new window Click to email this to a friend Opens in new window. Previous Post Next Post.