Verdi: La traviata

WORKS: La traviata
PERFORMER: Renée Fleming, Rolando Villazón, Renato Bruson; Los Angeles Opera Chorus and Orchestra/James Conlon; dir. Marta Domingo (Los Angeles, 2006)
CATALOGUE NO: Decca 074 3215 (NTSC system; dts 5.1; 16:9 picture format)
Filmed at Los Angeles Opera in 2006, this performance of Verdi’s masterpiece joins several on DVD already featuring today’s stars. The stagings with Renée Fleming, Angela Gheorghiu and Anna Netrebko are even more different from each other than the sopranos themselves, so fans of a particular singer who also have definite views about production may have to make some difficult decisions. Fleming comes showcased here in Marta Domingo’s ultra-conventional production: efficient and lavish, it offers no insights yet causes no offence. Giovanni Agostinucci’s sets evoke a Mexican mansion perhaps more than a Parisian one, though the French capital is suggested in the view from the window in Act III. Fleming moves convincingly from feistiness to fragility, and brings vocal glamour to each of the musically contrasting Acts. She’s apt to swoon self-consciously, something irritating in live performance but less worrying in the never-never land of opera on DVD. She and Rolando Villazón’s fresh and dark-toned Alfredo create an on-stage chemistry that is no lost on the (sometimes hysterically) appreciative audience. Renato Bruson delivers a stern and sonorous Giorgio Germont, and the whole enterprise is underpinned by James Conlon’s sparking yet refined conducting. Beautifully filmed by Brian Large, this makes for sumptuous viewing. Those who prefer something less traditional may have to swap Fleming for another diva.