12.2 C
New York
Thursday, November 26, 2020
Advertisement

Verdi: La Traviata [Fleming/Pappano/Royal Opera House] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080i/60
  • Audio Codec: PCM 2.0, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1
  • Studio: Opus Arte
  • Blu-ray Release Date: May 31, 2011
  • List Price: $29.99

[amazon-product]B004Q2TWPW[/amazon-product]

Purchase La Traviata on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Performance
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)


The Performance

[Rating:4/5]

Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata (The Fallen One) has been a perennial audience favorite as witnessed by this disc, now its fourth Blu-ray release and the second featuring leading American soprano Renée Fleming. The story is based on Alexandre Dumas’s La Dame aux Camélias whose heroine, Violetta Valéry is a Parisian courtesan.  The opera begins with a lavish party during which it becomes clear that Violetta is ill when she meets the younger Alfredo Germont (Joseph Calleja). Their mutual attraction quickly leads to a passionate love affair. However, this relationship hits the skids after Alfredo’s father, the elder Germont (Thomas Hampson), visits Violetta.  He  convinces her to leave his son so that Alfredo’s sister can marry without a touch of the scandal that has resulted from this liaison. At La Traviata’s conclusion, the lovers are briefly reunited and reconciled only to have Violetta die in Alfredo’s arms.

Now to the vocalism in this BD. Fleming shows her familiarity and comfort with this role, shading the wide range of emotions with her singing, if not her acting.  Calleja, a rising star in the opera world, has a gorgeous tenor voice  but his interpretation is still a dramatic work in progress. Having  Hampson, the reigning American baritone, in the thankless role of Germont pere sounds like luxury casting; however, the Hampson voice of today has a dryish quality and his Italian is noticeably less idiomatic than that of his colleagues.  The pacing is nigh unto perfect, thanks to one of the best operatic conductors around, Antonio Pappano, who leads the forces of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in this 2009 video.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

This Richard Eyre production premiered in 1994 and will have great appeal for period traditionalists. The sets are gorgeous and the costumes are right off the 19th century runway.  Video direction is excellent with a good balance between close ups and broad¸ stage shots.  The intimacy between the protagonists is made obvious, the essence of this very personal opera. Those into multimedia will enjoy the balletic scenes from the  last half of Act II. Cheers to the lighting designer Jean Kalman who did the previous ROH production with Sir Georg Solti and Angela Georghiu on standard DVD.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

La Traviata can be truly characterized as a singer’s opera as there plenty of moments for the principals to shine. In this respect, the balances are just right.  This can be attributed to the sound engineers and the expert support of Pappano and the ROH Orchestra.  A few cautionary notes should be sounded to purists. Given the risks of live performance, both Fleming and Calleja avoid the “optional” yet thrilling high notes at the end of their respective arias in the first and second acts. Not a biggie but, personally, I like the high notes.  Audience and ambience effects are discretely handled to convey the “live” experience but not to the point of distraction.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2/5]

As is too often the case, the extras are limited to a gallery of cast photos and an “interview” of Fleming by Pappano. While there are some singer’s insights, I would have liked to have heard from other cast members as well. For those coming to La Traviata for the first time, this is short shrift.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

The competition among the Blu-ray Traviatas is stiff and this disc generally acquits itself well.  Fleming competes against herself but her voice is fresher in a 2006 LA Opera production featuring stylish tenor Rolando Villazon, baritone Renato Bruson and conductor James Conlon. In the current ROH performance, Fleming’s portrayal is quite similar and, if anything, her vocal mannerisms more pronounced. The LA Opera production has decent period sets, a much better Alfredo (Villazon) but a Germont pere (Bruson) well past his prime. The orchestral  support is quite sympathetic and Brian Large’s videography, top-notch. The 2007 Teatro La Scala production featuring Angela Gheorghiu, Ramon Vargas and Roberto Frontali (by far the best Germont pere) is also well sung. This is a role Gheorghiu has owned in the theater since her 1994  DVD conducted by Georg Solti. Georghiu’s BD reprise of Traviata, is somewhat undermined by less-than-ideal videography and sets, and tempi that are a bit brisk for my taste. Then, there is the controversial “minimalist” Willy Decker production from the 2005 Salzburg Festival featuring opera hottie Anna Netrebko, with role reprises by Villazon and Hampson, neither of whom improves over their other performances.

Which to choose? If you must have Blu-ray, there is no clear-cut choice, but I would give a slight nod to the La Scala disc, based on the work of all three principals.  But if you are an opera addict like I am, you can never own “just” one recording of this beloved work.  So I would need to have the passion of Gheorghiu,  the  singing and acting of Villazon and Frontali, and the conducting of Pappano. Sounds to me like 3 BDs are required.  However, none of the current  BDs measure up to my desert island version, the DVD-only 1982 Franco Zeffirelli film featuring Placido Domingo, Teresa Stratas, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and conductor James Levine. While it has about 20 minutes of cuts, which will displease purists for sure, it is, by far, the most moving of them all.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B004Q2TWPW[/amazon-product]

Purchase La Traviata on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating: 4/5]
The Performance
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

Join the Discussion on Our Forum

Advertisement

Related Articles

My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising (Blu-ray Review)

An excellent entry (or farewell?) for this beloved franchise with lots of action and great animation.

Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula (Blu-ray Review)

This is an uneven but still fun to watch sequel to the 2016 smash hit zombie/action movie lands on Blu-ray with a rollicking Atmos mix.

Chernobyl (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review)

The account of the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster in Ukraine, Soviet Union, and the subsequent health and political fallout is told in five gripping episodes.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Stay Connected

301FansLike
0FollowersFollow
724FollowersFollow
- Advertisement -

Notice of Compliance with FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION 16 CFR Part 255

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR part 255 guidelines, this website hereby states that it receives free discs and other theatrical or home entertainment “screeners” and access to screening links from studios and/or PR firms, and is provided with consumer electronics devices on loan from hardware manufacturers and/or PR firms respectively for the purposes of evaluating the products and its content for editorial reviews. We receive no compensation from these companies for our opinions or for the writing of reviews or editorials.
Permission is sometimes granted to companies to quote our work and editorial reviews free of charge. Our website may contain affiliate marketing links, which means we may get paid commission on sales of those products or the services we write about. Our editorial content is not influenced by advertisers or affiliate partnerships. This disclosure is provided in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR § 255.5: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Latest Articles

My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising (Blu-ray Review)

An excellent entry (or farewell?) for this beloved franchise with lots of action and great animation.

Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula (Blu-ray Review)

This is an uneven but still fun to watch sequel to the 2016 smash hit zombie/action movie lands on Blu-ray with a rollicking Atmos mix.

Chernobyl (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review)

The account of the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster in Ukraine, Soviet Union, and the subsequent health and political fallout is told in five gripping episodes.

2067 (Blu-ray Review)

With the world deforested and people dying from a deadly disease caused by synthetic oxygen, a quiet tunnel worker receives a message from the future and must save humanity in this uneven but watchable dystopian Aussie indie sci-fi thriller.

The Irishman (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray Review)

Martin Scorsese's Academy Award-nominated (Best Director) late career crime world epic gets the Criterion Collection treatment it deserves.
%d bloggers like this: