WORKS: La Traviata
PERFORMER: Tiziana Fabbricini, Roberto Alagna, Paolo Coni, Nicoletta Curiel; Chorus & Orchestra of La Scala, Milan/Riccardo Muti
CATALOGUE NO: S2K 52486 DDD
Reports of Tiziana Fabbricini’s Violetta at La Scala last year were sensational: ‘the best since Callas’ etc, etc. This ‘live’ recording of the Scala production calls for a more circumspect appraisal of the young Italian soprano’s accomplishments.
The entire performance wins brownie points with me for being an all-Italian affair. In the theatre,I suspect, I would have been thrilled by Muti’s electric, hyper-musical conducting, by the youthful Roberto Alagna’s juicy-toned, ardent Alfredo and by the sheer ‘authenticity’ of the Scala company’s Verdi idiom.
I would also, probably, have taken Miss Fabbricini’s vocal frailties in my stride. On record, however, the flaws in her tone-production, her erratic intonation, her shrill high notes and her sketchy coloratura in ‘Sempre libera’ are exaggerated by the microphone and suggest a young artist fatally over-promoted. In the Act II duet with Germont – the vocally solid but inexpressive Paolo Coni – she sounds like Callas at the very end of her career (I mean 1973!) and her ‘Amami, Alfredo’is a desperate act of will-power.In generous mood, one could commend her performance fora certain dramatic verisimilitude – this Violetta is very obviously nota well woman – but even a tone quality reminiscent of the young Scotto (my favourite Violetta, in the Sixties DG La Scala recording) does not redeem this ill-advised casting of one of opera’s most demanding roles. Hugh Canning