WORKS: La traviata
PERFORMER: Inessa Galante, Ingus Petersons, Samsons Izjumovs; Latvian National Opera Orchestra & Chorus/Alexander Vilumanis
CATALOGUE NO: RR2CD 1350-51
This live recording was made at the Riga Opera House in 1989, and presumably gives a reasonably accurate account of the general standard of performance there. The Latvian chorus and orchestra are perfectly acceptable, and Alexander Vilumanis offers an authentically Italianate reading of the score. The principal singers, however, do not sound very Italian, either in style or in vocal timbre.
Inessa Galante’s Violetta improves from act to act. Somewhat careless about note values in Act I, she is moving in her great scene with Germont senior in Act II, and brings a beautifully pure legato to the one verse of ‘Addio del passato’ that she is allowed in Act III. (Some other theatre cuts are made, too, the only seriously damaging one being Alfredo’s cabaletta near the beginning of Act II.)
The Italian pronunciation byIngus Petersons (Alfredo) is no more than approximate, and his hefty vocalisation would be more suited to the pop world from which he emerged. The best of the principals is Samsons Izjumovs as Germont, though his attractive baritone sounds more youthful than Alfredo’s tenor.
There are several preferable versions of La traviata currently available, the most impressive of all being Decca’s 1994 live recording of the Royal Opera (remember them?) performance conducted by Solti, who gives the score without cuts. Angela Gheorghiu is a most credible and affecting Violetta, Frank Lopardo’s Alfredo is both tender and ardent, and Leo Nucci brings a finely rounded characterisation to Germont. Theirs is the Traviata to have. Charles Osborne