It only occurred to me during my first of two performances of La Traviata at the Teatro La Fenice that I had come to see Verdi's opera in the theatre where it had first been performed on March 6, 1853. Famously, the world premiere wasn't well received by the Venetian public, but ever since it was performed again at another Venetian opera house a year later La Traviata has become one of the most successful pieces ever written. And one of the best, I might add.
After a fire had destroyed the opera house a few years ago the Fenice had been rebuilt as a perfect copy of the old theatre and opened with a new production of La Traviata by Robert Carsen. It has been so successful here that it is now revived every season for a short run of performances.
There are too many great singers associated with La Traviata to name them all, but it is often underestimated what a difference a great conductor can make for the piece. If you listen to Arturo Toscanini, Carlo Maria Giulini (with Maria Callas) or Carlos Kleiber (with Ileana Cotrubas) you will understand what I mean. Myun-Wun Chung led a fluid performance, with great care to the details of Verdi's deceivingly simple, but highly efficient orchestration. I have always felt that it is not only Verdi's late operas that are conductor's pieces, and Chung's interpretation proved my point. On Sunday, the cast fully lived up to what you would expect from a Verdi performance at a major Italian opera house. Ekaterina Sadovnikova's Violetta was convincingly intense and vulnerable, but most of all extremely well sung. I am really looking forward to her debut with the COC. Stefano Secco, an Italian tenor whom we had put on the international map in Paris with roles like Rodolfo (Bohème), Gabriele Adorno (Simon Boccanegra) and Don Carlo, sang an ardent Alfredo with his usual musicality and great care for the text. As Giorgio Germont, Giovanni Meoni gave an extremely nuanced performance, a living example of the great Italian baritone tradition.
Now, I am just about to leave my hotel. This evening I will be back in Toronto.
Posted by Alexander Neef / in Travel / comments (4) / permalink
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