Verdi: La traviata

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Verdi
LABELS: Teldec
WORKS: La traviata
PERFORMER: Eteri Gvazava, José Cura, Rolando Panerai, Raphaëlle Farman; Solisti Cantori, RAI National SO/Zubin Mehta
CATALOGUE NO: 8573-82741-2
This is the soundtrack of the recent live TV film of La traviata which purported to be ‘an assertion of Paris, eternal wellspring of inspiration’. Whether one regards the film’s concept as one of genius or of gimmickry hardly matters, for the performances of a cast of singers chosen as much for dramatic as for musical appropriateness – no overweight consumptive soprano or arthritic tenor here – has resulted in a performance on disc that is thoroughly convincing.

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Eteri Gvazava’s Violetta may sound a trifle non-committal in Act I, which she ends with a ‘Sempre libera’ in which there is not much hint of desperation, but she rises to the dramatic demands of her Act II scene with Germont, and is even more impressive in Act III. José Cura is, as one would expect, always musical. Both ardent and tender in the Act I duet ‘Un dì felice’, he is a most satisfactory Alfredo.

Best of all is Rolando Panerai as the elder Germont. Now in his mid-seventies, he is well-suited to the role, and, for a ‘vecchio genitor’ his voice is still in good shape. How annoying that the only cut made in the score deprives him of his cabaletta after a moving account of ‘Di Provenza il mar’. Once past a somewhat laid-back account of the prelude, Zubin Mehta conducts Verdi’s wonderful score with appropriate ardour.

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So, a perfectly acceptable performance, but the benchmark set remains Solti’s on Decca. Charles Osborne