Lisette Oropesa, René Barbera, Lester Lynch; Sächsischer Staatsopernchor Dresden; Dresdner Philharmonie/Daniel Oren
Pentatone PTC 5186 956 (CD/SACD) 135:00 mins (2 discs)
Highly acclaimed for her recent performances in La traviata at major opera houses in the US, Britain, Italy and Spain, the Cuban-American soprano Lisette Oropesa has now recorded the work. And what a dazzling interpretation it turns out to be! A lighter-voiced Violetta than many, leaning more towards the lyric than the dramatic, she sings with a consistent, shimmering beauty, effortless legato and an endearing sense of character. René Barbera, meanwhile, is a caring, expressive Alfredo, and the two voices are well matched in weight and tone, floating together delicately like spun gossamer as they take flight at the culmination of ‘Un dì, felice, eterea’. By the end of the first scene, we genuinely believe that this adorable pair are falling in love; by the last, our hearts are breaking.
The Dresdner Philharmonie, under the direction of Daniel Oren, also deserves praise, creating an atmosphere of fevered hedonism in the opening party scene, allowing the music to breathe expansively in more lyrical moments and cranking up the tension as the estranged lovers spar against each other at the end of Act II. Lester Lynch’s Germont sounds rather blustery, alas, but he gives a fine account of the oft-omitted ‘No, non udrai rimproveri’.
There are many competing interpretations, many by classic casts of the past, but do find space in your collection for this new Traviata – and witness the blossoming of a soprano who is possibly the Violetta of our day.