Thanks a lot to Rhodri for his fantastic report !!!!
The Salzburg Traviata. That was my first encounter with Anna Netrebko and ever since I´ve desperately wanted to see her as Violetta. When she was scheduled to sing the role with the ROH in early 2008 I thought I´d struck it lucky but then disaster struck in the form of bronchitis and she cancelled the performance I was due to see, but fortunately Vienna came to the rescue.
Rising at four in the morning has never been my favourite past time but for once I´m glad I made the effort. As a fellow opera goer said to me after the performance had ended - "I could sit through it once again right now." It was that good.
Netrebko gave a performance as compelling, in my admittedly uneducated eyes, as the one she gave in Salzburg. However, this was a diff rent Violetta than the one who had dazzled in red. Gone were the Olympic style gymnastics, instead the Violetta on the stage seemed a far more mature creature, and one already, it appeared to me, to be willing to fore-go her life of Sempre Libera lifestyle.
Maybe it´s a lazy assumption to make but this new found approach to Violetta could be due to the recent changes in her life. Whatever the reason she gave a performance that exuded self awareness and knowledge of the profundity of her situation. The desperation in the final scene was palpable in the audience as the revellers partied almost tauntingly outside her window.
And the rest of the cast?
In order for Traviata to work there has to be three singers of equal abilities and thankfully in the shape of Joesph Calleja and Vladimir Stoyanov the triumvirate was complete.
Calleja (Alfredo), on Monday´s night performance should consider throwing in the odd off colour performance otherwise he will be in danger of singing the role for the remainder of his career. the most pleasing aspect of his performance was how he married the sweet lyrical nature of his voice to a surprisingly powerful engine.
As Giorgio Germont Vladimir Stoyanov accomplished the difficult skill of having to be a man at least twice his age without ever falling foul of the great risk in this role and overstating the character´s age. He allowed the music to guide him and as such he never over sang his role.
As for the Vienna Phil they were simply sublime - from the haunting opening to the final notes of the opera they gave the singers the greatest support imaginable and guided by Marco Armiliato they breathed life into Traviata and brought new aspects of the piece to my ears.
Before I travelled to Vienna I was aware that the city had taken Netrebko to their hearts, but I wasn´t prepared for how much they had done so. As soon as the final curtain fell a huge roar erupted around the house and there followed a ten minute standing ovation. But this was no "love-in" ovation, because I would dare any house in the world not to react in the same way after a performance of great skill and artistry from all concerned...