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La Traviata (Verdi) Scotto, Carreras Live 1973
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Description du produit
Few singers have plumbed the depths of the role of Violetta as did she incomparable soprano Renata Scotto. Her interpretation surprises with fresh insights at every turn, illuminating aspects of the character that are latent in the libretto and the schore but rarely dramatized with such completeness. For example, when Germont meets Violetta, he is immediately struck by her strong bearing ( Quai modi! , he exclaims in an aside). Accordingly, Scotto presents Violetta as a flesh-and-blood woman who does not go gentle into that good night . Her decision to sacrifice her love for Alfredo for the good of his family is made out of moral fortitude and not weakness. And we clearly see her frustration (and perhaps a flash of anger) in the scene at Flora's party when Alfredo naively believers that she no longer loves him. In this live 1973 performance from Japan, Scotto is partnered by one of the great tenors of our time, José Carreras, then at the start of his international career. The distinguished baritone Sesto Bruscantini is a formidable Germont who sings an exceptionally moving rendition of the famous aria Di Provenza il mar . Note: The original video master for this performance contains embedded Japanese subtitles that remain on screen throughout. To these, VAI has added optional subtitles in other languages.
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This is obviously the pre-Met, pre-heavy-repertoire, pre-diet Scotto, and the voice is in good working order. She is only edgy on high to the degree that she always was, young or old, and that later-career flap or flutter on sustained notes is detectable but minimally intrusive. I will admit that I even enjoy the Lady Macbeth (Muti), the Manon Lescaut and the vocally tattered Musetta (both Levine), all from the early 1980s, but in 1973 the voice was more smoothly produced and better held together than on any of those later performances. I cannot imagine anyone who likes the Scotto of the 1960s rejecting this on the grounds that her sound qua sound is beyond their tolerance.
Of course, there are one-night/one-take imperfections. In the modern Met HD era, Violetta's first solo scene would probably be patched up with dress-rehearsal footage for a DVD release -- the soprano has tuning issues in the recitative and the aria, and in the coda of "Sempre libera," she does all the usual things that suggest gearing up for the unwritten high option (dropping out for a measure, turning away), but then seems to decide at the last second not to risk it. Her best singing is in the later two acts, and it is a very specific and well-drawn heroine. I often feel that some of this singer's own pugnacious nature manifests in her characters, and her Violetta is no tender flower. She has been made vulnerable by her physical situation, but she is shrewd and formidable, really the most worldly of the three principal figures. The initial dismissal of Giorgio Germont, which elicits his "Quai modi!" does not have that quick, showy anger that is a standard choice (see Gheorghiu). Rather, it is offhand, cool, regal. Very effective. There is a good deal of piano singing throughout, and this has a silken quality in the midrange, with a lot of color and a superb legato.
The men are of less interest. Carreras sounds as good as he ever did or would, and one can luxuriate especially in the sound of the lower two-thirds of a wonderful voice (even this early, he tended to stab at the highest notes). He does not have Scotto's seasoning or her imagination. When they trade verses of the same music, she sounds inspired and surprises us with her choices; he sounds well drilled and does what the Alfredos usually do. I will not spend a lot of time describing what they do physically, but the artistic discrepancy is exacerbated if you are watching. She is mercurial, alert to situation and mood, telling us a lot with her face and eyes; he just lowers his lids and extends an arm once in a while. There is more of an equal partnership suggested by the studio recording of Scotto and Alfredo Kraus (conducted by Riccardo Muti, EMI), although Kraus had a less beautiful voice than did Carreras, and both he and Scotto had reached a certain age by that point.
Sesto Bruscantini is better here than on the earlier FAVORITA in VAI's Tokyo line, or else the demands of the music are better matched to what he has to offer, but he sounds older than his 53 years at the time (the 70-year-old Renato Bruson on the Fleming DVD actually has more in the tank). This is neither the coldest nor the most sympathetic Germont. The voice and the acting suggest an aged, physically frail, provincial, and rather limited man who is not above manipulation. The second verse of "Di provenza" begins well. Bruscantini sings this more tenderly, effectively differentiating it from what has come before.
Nino Verchi's conducting is light and airy, mostly to the good. What I wrote about Scotto not seeming to work too hard at underlining dramatic points applies equally to him. Where Solti, Maazel, Rizzi, and Conlon give us weighty, ponderous attacks -- for example, in the repeated braces of chords that crop up in multiple movements of middle Verdi, and in Violetta's final march to the grave -- Verchi consistently goes in for a lighter touch. "Lighter" does not mean "quicker"; several of his tempi di mezzo are slower than average. He is very good in the party music, and deserves much of the credit for this Brindisi's sweet, naïve charm. Perhaps the associations from the piece's many years of overexposure will fall away, and you will find yourself thinking of what it means to *these* people, putting aside their concerns and sincerely voicing high spirits that may last no longer than an evening, but are real in the moment. Verchi paces well throughout. Violetta's duets of Act II/i and Act III with father and son, respectively, do not seem too long, as they may in some performances mentioned above, and it is not because of the cuts. It owes as much to the maestro's sense of proportion, his not larding scenes with localized quasi-symphonic effects. Most importantly, without excessively indulging his star soprano (as Conlon does almost to an obsequious degree, seeming to lead a different performance when Fleming is singing as opposed to her leading men), he gives Scotto a level of freedom and comfort of which she makes good use, as when he keeps the orchestra's volume down for her hushed, shattered "Dite alla giovine." With the poorest orchestra of any of the five performances mentioned (the NHK), Verchi coaxes the best reading of TRAVIATA, albeit with technical flubs and bobbles you would never hear on a commercially released performance led by a Solti.
The two comprimario women, Anna di Stasio (Flora) and Anna Pedroni (Annina), are as good as it gets.
The production is straightforward; each scene looks like the first thing that is likely to come to mind when you think of LA TRAVIATA. Of the other DVDs mentioned, Fleming's (the first of her two available, taped in Los Angeles) follows a similar route to the most visually opulent effect. Gheorghiu's (*her* first of two, at the ROH in London) is likewise traditional but plainer to the eye. The respective DVD productions featuring Ciofi and Netbreko as our courtesan take more liberties in the contemporary Regietheater manner. When I am inclined that way, I find Carsen's mercenary disco-era world a more stimulating alternative than Decker's abstract minimalism, stalking death figure, and giant clock.
Some of the musical cuts are more bothersome than others. I do not especially miss the cabalettas for the Germonts, but I would have liked the second verse of "Addio del passato," and there is that irritating and pointless traditional cut and graft near the end, giving Violetta the last word and depriving the deathbed party of their vocal reactions.
I wish Sony/BMG would release the Traviata with Fabriccini and Alagna. It is a conventional production from Scala, and a fuller text. Paolo Coni would not be my ideal Germont, but he is at least acceptable. The "regie" productions from Fenice, Salzburg, et.al. sound most unappealing even though the singing has been applauded. In the meantime it is more than easy to "make do" with Scotto or Gheorghiu.