Verdi: La traviata

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Verdi
LABELS: Philips
WORKS: La traviata
PERFORMER: Kiri Te Kanawa, Alfredo Kraus, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Roberto Scaltriti, Silvia Mazzoni, Olga Borodina; Florence Maggio Musicale Chorus & Orchestra/Zubin Mehta
CATALOGUE NO: 438 238-2 DDD
Though this is far from being the most dramatically convincing Traviata on disc, it is musically one of the strongest of recent recordings. Kiri Te Kanawa, a beautiful Violetta in the opera house, is in her most mellifluous voice here. Her characterisation is perhaps somewhat bland in Act I, but the aria ‘Ah fors’è lui’ is exquisitely vocalised, and its cabaletta tossed off with a flourish, though without the usually interpolated E flat at the end. She becomes more involved in the proceedings in Acts II and III, and is at her most affecting in the duet ‘Parigi, o cara’, launched with gentle solicitude by Alfredo Kraus.

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In his mid-60s and therefore old enough to be the father of Dmitri Hvorostovsky who sings the role of Germont père, Kraus sounds unconvincing as Violetta’s lover. Nevertheless it is difficult not to succumb to his style and the sweetness of his tone. Hvorostovsky is a surprisingly effective Germont, commanding in his great Act II scene with Te Kanawa, and phrasing his aria ‘Di Provenza’ most elegantly. Zubin Mehta occasionally chooses some eccentric tempos, but for the most part conducts authoritatively, and the recording is excellent. I should confess to having written one of the essays in the accompanying booklet. Charles Osborne