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Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
La Traviata - Melodrama in three acts (1853)
Svetla Vassileva - Violetta Valéry; Daniela Pini - Flora Bervoix; Antonella Trevisan - Annina; Massimo Giordano - Alfredo Germont; Vladimir Stoyanov - Giorgio Germont
Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatro Regio di Parma/Yuri Temirkanov
rec. Teatro Regio di Parma, Italy, 2007
Sound Format: PCM Stereo, DTS 5.1 Surround; Picture Format: 16:9; Region 0; Subtitles: English, Italian, German, French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Japanese
Reviewed in DTS5.1.
C MAJOR 723608 [133:00 + Bonus: 11:00]

First a thank you to the Stage Directors Karl-Ernst and Ursel Herrmann who have given us the opera in a form Verdi would have recognised, with scenery and costumes appropriate to the story. On this occasion you do not have to spend any time wondering what is going on.
 
The action starts over the prelude with dumb show setting the scene of a party in Violetta's Paris apartment. The high level of reality is increased by convincing characterisations of the three central roles: Violetta the courtesan, Alfredo the besotted young man and Germont the concerned father. Svetla Vassileva makes for a young, beautiful and appropriately seductive Violetta. Since she also has a lovely voice with a rich lower register and can act, in operatic terms she is almost perfect. I say almost because she does display a slight tendency to approximate note values in some faster passages but it is only in her efforts to maintain intensity. Giordano and Stoyanov are both convincing male leads. Giordano is believable as Violetta's lover and you can see why they are so attracted to each other. Though Stoyanov is a little too restrained at times he too conveys the quandary of a father who has the interests of both his children at heart and simply makes a misjudgement that leads to tragedy. The confrontation between Germont and Violetta in Act 2 is very well sung if a touch static but it is a nice touch to see Germont cast as a man far from oblivious to Violetta's evident charms. She is threatened by him at more than one level. He moves too close to her and she appears at times suspicious of his motives. The Act 1 gypsy scene is a real 'party piece', which is precisely what it is supposed to be. The performers ham it up and descend from their make-shift stage to mix with their nouveau riche spectators. Violetta appears sick in Act 3 and moves very unsteadily around her bed. Her death comes as no surprise. The baton is wielded by an urgent Yuri Temirkanov who shows what a difference it makes to have a world class conductor in charge. His tempi in Act 1 especially must have frightened the cast and especially the chorus of the Teatro Regio di Parma. They acquit themselves very well, as do the excellent orchestra. The audience clearly had a great evening, or should I say three great evenings since this derives from three performances.
 
I wish I could be so positive about the technical side of this DVD. To begin with one cannot but observe that DVD is not up to reproducing the mastering from an 'HD source' as stated on the box. If you buy this, buy the Blu-Ray for the picture quality unless you are viewing on a moderate sized screen - which I do not. The menu is, as usual, accompanied by music which repeats monotonously as you select stereo or surround and the subtitle language. One oddity which did surprise me is that the voices have real stereo spread and move across the stage as they should. This has not been the case in some other operas in the Tutto Verdi series reviewed in Blu-Ray where the voices stay firmly central, but I have not been able to compare the two formats in this particular performance. However, it must be noted that the sound quality, as opposed to the stereo spread, is rather processed and has a scratchy quality I have not encountered with the much higher data-rates of DTS Master Audio on Blu-Ray. It would seem you can't have it all.
 
The bonus feature about the opera is useful but someone should have told the voice-over actor how to pronounce 'recitative'. He obviously does not attend the opera very often! The booklet essay and synopsis are helpful.
 
Dave Billinge 


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