Verdi's La Traviata

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Met revives Willy Decker’s modern-dress, boldly minimalist staging of Verdi’s La Traviata, which debuted at the Salzburg Festival in 2005 and was first presented at the Met on Dec. 31, 2010. Natalie Dessay is Violetta, the terminally ill courtesan who enters an ill-fated love affair with a young gentleman named Alfredo, played here by tenor Matthew Polenzani. Dmitri Hvorostovsky is Giorgio Germont and Fabio Luisi conducts.

Dessay joins the ensemble after having missed the first performance last week due to illness.


Conductor: Fabio Luisi

Violetta Valéry: Natalie Dessay

Alfredo Germont: Matthew Polenzani

Giorgio Germont: Dmitri Hvorostovsky

Comments [18]


I was shocked by Dessay's hoarseness and technical problems, but found out later that she had been ill and cancelled earlier in the week. Was her disastrous performance a matter of a permanent vocal decline or rather a reckless and unwise decision to perform a taxing role when not fully recovered? I hope the latter, as I have heard amazing performances by her in the past. I am gratified at how passionate my fellow opera lovers are about maintaining high expectations from performers and staging directors. This is laudable in a world of mediocrity. Opera production is one of the few remaining human endeavors which still aspires to a lofty excellence. It is such a demanding and complex art form, it's a miracle it is pulled off well more often than not. I vehemently disagree that Verdi operas are passé. His melodies are fresh and timeless and his dramatic depiction of the human condition very moving. I will take La Traviata over Nixon in China any day!

Apr. 23 2012 12:00 PM
David from NY

Saw it in HD and was very disappointed. Ms Dessay was awful, the sound quality was equally bad and it looked like she was miked!!! I saw Ms Poplavskaya sing Violetta last year live at the Met in the same production and she was far better. I saw Ms Dessay live in both London and NYC performances of La Fille du Regiment and she was super. I saw her live at the Met in La Sonnambula and although the production left a lot to be desired she was good as was the rest of the cast. There is something about the La Traviata set that is stifling the sound. I like modern minimalistic sets but this one just does not work.

Apr. 19 2012 10:08 PM
Ligia Dovale

I believe that the choreography was also under par. And having the tenor in underwear is something that I would have not expected in a place like this and in an opera of this category. I very much doubt it that Pavarotti or Placido Domingo would have accepted to be presented in underwear to sing in front of the world.

Apr. 18 2012 12:10 PM
Naama Zahavi-Ely from Williamsburg, VA

I loved the performance, which I watched in HD. And so did friends of mine who heard it over the radio. I look forward very much to seeing it live in NY in early May. I will take a committed, intelligent, moving, musically sensitive performance over a single high note any day.

Apr. 15 2012 06:38 AM
Nina from NYC

What a moving and incredible experience listening to the Met Opera live Saturday broadcasts. Thank you!

Apr. 14 2012 03:50 PM
pbprod from NYC

Dessay is singing as though she is doing a "run-through" rehearsal - you know, like pretending to sing, just to get the markings, etc. Maybe the worst Violetta I have ever heard.

Apr. 14 2012 03:48 PM
John M Gotwalt from NYC

You've got to be kidding ! I thought Licia Albanese was singing and Klemperer conducting.

Apr. 14 2012 03:20 PM

Dmitri Hvorostovsky saved this show!!!

Apr. 14 2012 03:14 PM

lol Hvorostovsky sounds like an old wounded dog howling for help, what was that Di provenza about? And he cracked too.

Polenzani is a big baby, what a tragedy this broadcast.

Apr. 14 2012 02:53 PM
Opera lover from NYC

Dessay is simply finished.
She needs to be removed from stage and singing opera altogether. The roles she is choosing to sing are NOT for her vocal condition any more.
The Met doesn't deserve someone who's completely vocally declined and is HOARSE on stage while trying to perform. The veins on her neck and her eyes are popping out so hard when she tries to sing that it is just absolutely scary and a clear sign of tremendous (but unsuccessful) effort.
Oh, and it's a dirty little secret that Ms. Dessay is singing miked- just like in musical vaudevilles on Broadway. She has the wireless microphone and the antenna hidden in her dress. Is this why tickets cost hundreds of dollars at the Met? So we can listen to a miked performer through sound-boxes and amplification? Sad- and unacceptable.
There are MANY capable sopranos today who can sing this role marvelously. Dessay and quazi-diva Gheorgiou are not in that category any more.

Apr. 14 2012 02:30 PM
Minnie Falconer from Sacramento, CA

The little I have heard is enough to agree that the Met is sloppy! I am listening and cannot imagine any acting from anyone. What was that sarcastic laugh coming from Germont père? I am proud to say that I was a witness of the Met's great productions with Tebaldi, Delmonaco, Corena, Merrill, Pavarotti, Corelli, et al. I long for the days when blood rushed through my veins seeing an opera at the MET; who cared how the singers looked. Even listening on the radio was a thrill. Today, it is torture. There is no feeling in these singers. The Met should stop catering to these set directors and designers who only thing of becoming notorious for their horrible sets!

Apr. 14 2012 02:28 PM
larry eisenberg from nyc

Wagnerian divas give me
A strong surge of urges to flee,
The prospect is bleak
With Walküre next week,
Wagner is not my cup of Tea!

Apr. 14 2012 02:15 PM
Steven E Peters

The great Anna Russel said it best: To be a great opera singer one needs a great voice. PERIOD! First act Saturday, 04/14/12 - Violetta deprived listeners, (and I've been a met attender and broadcast supporter for over fifty -five years, of THE high note. UNACCEPTABLE! Your operas are getting sloppy. This season one tenor went into falsetto to hit a high note-FALSETTO???? You've ruined a classic with your current absurd production. Bring back GRAND opera or cease. It is painful this season hearing the many errors/ Unless things improve I can access radio from around the globe and several opera only internet venues. I've never tolerated sloppy work and fired employees who thought somehow to get by. Where are the reliably great performers and managers who demand only the best for their public. Shame. Ah Bah!

Apr. 14 2012 02:05 PM
larry eisenberg from nyc

Ms Dessay I would not have picked,
As Violetta, derelict,
Verdi's masterpiece
Gives me such surcease,
This program I'll love, I predict.

Apr. 14 2012 01:57 PM

not to mention the crack at the conclusion of Sempre libera, just get her off stage.

Apr. 14 2012 01:40 PM

poor dear Dessay's in terrible form again, the woman is not singing the notes, just attacking them. Choking too, yikes.

Apr. 14 2012 01:38 PM

CBC I read your comment on the other Trav page & couldn't agree with u more. Especially "Di Provenza" zzzzzzzzzz Take care. Be ready for Siegfried next week.

Apr. 14 2012 12:52 AM
concetta nardone from Nassau county

This hackneyed maudlin story about a heart of gold needs to be retired together with the damn gypsys. Cheap opera. Saw a production on italian tv whereby Violetta ended up as a bag lady. Leo Nucci was Papa Germont. A great singing actor whose talents were wasted. Read some the reviews for this so-called new production. Real trash. The Met could spend the money on better stuff.
CBC. Hope your Easter was full of joy. Hope you are well.

Apr. 13 2012 06:52 PM

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