Verdi's La Traviata

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Marina Poplavskaya in Verdi's <em>La Traviata</em> Marina Poplavskaya in Verdi's La Traviata (Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera)

The Met has unveiled Willy Decker’s modern-dress, boldly minimalist staging of Verdi’s La Traviata, first seen at the Salzburg Festival in 2005. Playing Violetta is the rising-star soprano Marina Poplavskaya who recently made a splash at the Met as Elisabeth in Don Carlo. (Anna Netrebko was originally slated for the role but dropped out of the production to avoid competing with her own DVD of the performance recorded at Salzburg.)

The reviews have been overwhelmingly enthusiastic for Poplavskaya, who plays a terminally ill courtesan who enters an ill-fated love affair with a young gentleman named Alfredo, played here by tenor Matthew Polenzani. Wearing a short red dress and high heels, she is surrounded by a flock of men in black suits as well as a giant, ever-present clock. The Financial Times noted that Poplavskaya "gave a dauntlessly athletic, expressive, magnetic performance."


Conductor: Gianandrea Noseda
Violetta: Marina Poplavskaya
Alfredo: Matthew Polenzani
Germont: Andrzej Dobber
Production: Willy Decker

Comments [16]

Roger Bass from Hendereson, Nevada

Caught this revisionist version of La Traviata on PBS. My first thought was: "what would Verdi have thought ifn he had experienced this minimalist re-creation? No way to know, but my guess is negative.

After twenty minutes I cloosed my eyes and was able to enjoy the opera once more.

Aug. 26 2012 05:10 PM
william pagenkopf from flushing, ny

Really not interested in announcers opinions before or after playing a record..
some are knowledgeable but most are rather pedestrian.
Also so much repeats. Your beginning to be like local cable station.
Decide how you will pronounce names and titles, half American half correct.

Nov. 23 2011 01:21 PM

People come to the opera, especially one with a budget like the Met's, not only to be ravished by great compositions and the singers' beautiful voices, but also the staging and costumes. The only way the costume featured in the sample image above would work is if the singer in it is remarkably beautiful and fit, as is Netrebko. Unfortunately, Poplavskaya's figure and features are not remarkable enough from the stage to pull off such a minimal costume, nor is her voice and technique remarkable enough to make one not care. She needs that period dress.

Met - please leave the minimal stagings and costume to those organizations who can't afford better. Give us something to dream about when we've spent painful amounts of money on tickets; give us our money's worth so we don't care.

Jan. 15 2011 03:20 PM
BG from NYC

This soprano is a disappointment, at least in this role. It's one of my favorite operas but after listening to Joan Sutherland sing Violetta, this is quite awful.

Jan. 15 2011 02:54 PM
concetta nardone from Elmont, NY

This is an opera that I would love to see retired for a few years. Other than the card scene and Alfredo's disrespect of Violetta, cannot stand it. And the aria Sempre Libera always throws my cat Siegfried into a fit of fear and he goes to hide for a few hours if I do not turn off the radio quickly enough. Screaming in Italian. Oh the usual courtesan with the heart of gold. As for the modern settings, I really hated what the Met did with Macbeth. Lady Macbeth walking and balancing on chairs during the Mad Scene, What was that all about.

Jan. 15 2011 02:31 PM

Are you kidding me? When did Met lowed the bar? Violetta (Marina Poplavskaya) is not capable of reaching the high notes, in the first act she adapted the grand aria an octave lower. Germont (Andrzej Dobber) have intonation problems, and is not in the character.

Jan. 15 2011 02:29 PM
A. Lavrin from Maryland

I entirely agree with the comments of John Turner from Indianapolis. I also noted that Violeta's voice was not up to the addition of not being correct for the role.

Jan. 15 2011 02:13 PM
larry eisenberg from New York City

Traviata is music inspired,
The Principals? Always high wired,
List'ning I can't see,
A new Century,
Zeffirelli's I always admired.

Jan. 15 2011 02:06 PM
Suncita from Sacramento

I agree that the MET is playing with fire transposing Traviata to a more modern setting. I admired Marina Poplavskaya's vocal and acting talent in Don Carlo but, today, I find that she is having vocal problems. Her voice doesn't shine and, during "Sempre libera" in the first act, the conductor had to wait on her to compose herself. She then sang a high section an octave lower and ended the scene without the traditional "oppure" high C, which we, fanatics were waiting for. I truly hope this happened because she is not feeling well. Imagine starting your career with no reliable high notes.

Jan. 15 2011 01:56 PM
BG from NYC

21st century European courtesan, really? That's really stretching it. Transposing Tosca to Fascist Italy worked well. I can't imagine that this will; it's too far a leap. Following Zeffirelli can't be easy.

Jan. 15 2011 01:54 PM
cynthia harmon from nyc

You can have modern sets (Don Carlo and Magic Flute) without changing the period or story. Who does the met think they are attracting? People who love opera respect it and enjoy it for what it is not what is done to it by forcing it into another period and changing the whole message. I feel sorry for the great singers who have to contend with Gelb's madness.

Jan. 15 2011 01:42 PM
Bernie from UWS

Transposing the settings of operas into different eras and places has been done for decades. If the score is treated faithfully, a new setting can only shed new light on the music itself, bring out fresh layers of meaning and speak to new audiences.

I saw this production and really found it bold, original and yet true to the story's dramatic meaning. Yes, there are certainly bad and misguided restagings of classic works but it's unfair to suggest that anything other than a period piece should be painted with the "Eurotrash" brush.

Jan. 15 2011 10:54 AM
Hendrik E. Sadi from Yonkers, NY

You really do a disservice to the composer when you transpose his music and story to another time than which it was written for.
La Traviata belongs to the long skirt Courtesan Age of the 19 Century, not to the short skirt age of the 20 and 21 Century.

Jan. 15 2011 10:14 AM
John Turner from Indianapolis

When our premiere opera company and one of the world's foremost, programs an opera and chooses to wrench it from its context, that's bad enough. When it's a staple of the repertoire, it's appalling. Let's just suppose the Met audience is interested in the story making sense. I don't think that's a great stretch. What becomes of the value system which leads directly to the crisis? A young man takes up with a high-class hooker and his papa has to beg said hooker to give him up as their affair is hurting his sister's chance at an advantageous marriage. In 2011? Are the Met intending to keep buying new costumes each year so they don't look dated? The Met shows a distressing tendency to take up Eurotrash stagings which constitute artistic rape.

Jan. 15 2011 07:55 AM
william pagenkopf from flushing, ny

Discuted with your mutilation of works of art. No respect for composers or libettists.
Remarks in lobby last season.
"Will never go to a Traviata again."
Miss half performance due to combining acts and having to leave and not get back to auditorium due to bathroom necessity.
You may gain in the short run but it is the older that have supported you for years.
You have destroyed one of our treasures and we are the ones that were your faithful.
Gelb and these stupid directors who know nothing of operatic staging and lack respect for composers intentions must go or you will lost basic support within very few years,,,,,,,,,,

Jan. 15 2011 03:40 AM
Carroll Hendrickson, Jr. from Frederick, Maryland

As a 90 year old who started listening to broadcasts in 1935, and now seen hundreds of operas from coast to coasts, including many at the two Mets, there is a distinct advantage in not being able to travel. In purely listening to broadcasts we can visualize them in the manner we have seen and loved them, Comparisons are odious, but you know what I mean.

Jan. 14 2011 06:03 PM

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