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Giuseppe VERDI (1813 - 1901)
La Traviata
Violette Victoria de los Angeles
Alfredo Germont Carlo del Monte
Giorgio Germont Mario Sereni
Rome Opera Chorus and Orchestra
Tullio Serafin
Recorded June & Oct 1959 Opera House, Rome. ADD
EMI double fforte CZS 5 73824 2 2CD's [ 119.02 ]
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This recording has been floating around the catalogue in various formats more or less continuously since it was first released forty years ago. Even now, with all the new Traviatas made since the late fifties, it remains a version that cannot be overlooked and at its bargain price is almost certain to please. There are two stars in the package - Tullio Serafin himself, by then 81 years of age and still conducting with authority, control and immense support for his singers, and, of, course, Victoria de los Angeles - one the great Violettas.

The tempi chosen throughout are measured (some would say slow, I felt near ideal) but they seem right in context, while purists might object to cuts that were customary at the time but would perhaps be frowned on today. Serafin appears to be a singer's conductor with his sensitive guidance and he also brings out parts of the orchestral score that other's hide (the cellos in the introduction, for instance).

At the time of the recording Victoria de los Angeles was 37 and her voice no longer had the freshness and bloom that only youth can provide. What she did have was a superb instrument that was capable still of portraying emotions and passion in a beautiful way that few have matched or bettered. She also had the skill, talent, gift - call it what you will - to become the part she was playing. Utterly convincing throughout as the consumptive heroine she involves the listener as few others can. Her moments in the great love duets are quite superb and the death-bed scene - one of operas great moments - is heart-rending.

The other principal role has Carlo del Monte as Alfredo. He has a decent tenor voice and shows considerable ability in his characterisation and sings the Brindisi with some style. As his father, baritone Sergio Tedesco is steady and reliable.

Like others in the series, the full libretto is not included but there are ample cue points listed. The recording was a good one in its day so is still perfectly acceptable. If you want a Traviata that won't break the bank and you will continue to enjoy after repeated playings - this is the one to buy.


Harry Downey


Harry Downey

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