Tuesday, May 12, 2009

La Traviata, Wiener Staatsoper, Wien 11. May 2009

11. Mai 2009

(276. Aufführung in dieser Inszenierung)

Dirigentin: Marco Armiliato
nach einer Inszenierung von: Otto Schenk
Bühnenbild nach Entwürfenvon: Günther Schneider-Siemssen
Kostüme: Hill Reihs-Gromes
Chorleitung: Thomas Lang

Violetta Valéry: Anna Netrebko
Alfredo Germont: Joseph Calleja
Giorgio Germont: Vladimir Stoyanov
Flora Bervoix: Zoryana Kushpler
Annina: Donna Ellen
Gaston: Marian Talaba
Baron Douphol: Clemens Unterreiner
Marquis d'Obigny: Hans Peter Kammerer
Doktor Grenvil: Alfred Šramek

Third and last performance of this completely sold-out run of Verdi's La Traviata at the Wiener Staatsoper with Anna Netrebko as Violetta Valéry, Joseph Calleja as Alfredo Germont, Vladimir Stoyanov as Giorgio Germont and Marco Armiliato conducting the Chorus and Orchestra of the Wiener Staatsoper.

Our blog friend Attila attended this performance and wrote the following detailed report:
"I was at the 11th May perfomance of Traviata - the third and final in this run. I was a little wary after reports that some of Anna's notes had been less than good, and that maybe she was a little tired. However, what I saw was amazing - I really think it could have been Anna's best performance ever.  
The interpretation was very different from the wild child I had heard about in the London performances at Covent Garden last year. Instead, in Vienna she was a woman totally absorbed in thought from the very beginning. Distracted from the party making by the intimations of mortality provoked by her illness. It was an evening where her voice worked from the very beginning - there was no period of warming up, none of that feeling of effort and concentration to get the tone to lift up into the head. Everything was easy. Expressive. She had a wonderful confidence. But for me the first great moment of her performance was an unsung one. When Alfredo leaves taking with him the flower Violetta has given him, the party makers enter from their dancing; Anna turned to the audience with a face that showed the dawning realisation that something amazing had happened to her in that first meeting with Alfredo. This then set the way for "E strano!" as a pondering mediation rather than the mad scene some singers make it.  
In the second act, she kept the emotional and pyhsical suffering to a minimum. This Violetta was happy to be living her own new domestic drama, happy now as a housewife. Her duet with the very sympathetic Germont was a calm discussion between newly acquainted family members. There was no petulance or exasperation. Instead the climax which came in "Amami, Afredo!" was again a realisation within herself of how much she loved Alfredo, rather than a pathetic plea.  
The party scene saw Anna with the life force drained from her, indifferent to events around her. In the ensemble she rose above the chorus with the finest thread of tone that showed her suffering with little of the over-emotional self pity one usually sees in performances. At the end she simply fainted, crumbling to the ground. 
Her portrayal of Violetta had so far been more static than I had been expecting, without the overblown emotion normally associated with the role. This was a woman who had not lived passionately, who had not seized life by the throat but who had frittered it away with meaningless social banter. The vocal assumption of the role was never to be questioned, we really were in a position to move beyond how good the notes were and instead to really try to work out what was going on in the head and soul of her character. Anna's seeming underplaying of Violetta paved the way for a final act that was great.  
The bleakness of the shabby apartment relected the condition of her body - now weak and feeble. A body that had missed its opportunites in life. But her spirit still craved the fullness of the experiences so far denied to her. She pulled herself from her bed like an animatronic doll, a lifeless object with some inner force mechanically moving her across the room towards the light from the window. After sinking into Alfredo's arms, she returns back to bed to regain some energy, singing her part in the final ensemble lying down facing the ceiling totally unconnected from the overwrought emotional despair around her. When she get's up again for the final moments, she is in her own world. The separation from those around her total. Facing the audience, she reaches up with one arm to seize in the final seconds the joy that has eluded her for her whole miserable life. 
The audience which had warmly applauded during the evening was now rapturous. Anna looked ecstatic with her performance. After endless curtain calls the safety curtain descended indicating the end of the evening. But as the last die-hard fans continued to scream and shout, Anna cheekily appeared through a little door at the side - in front of the proscenium arch - and leaning out, stood waving at the remaining crowd. I think she didn't want to leave. 
Afterwards I asked Anna "Do you think that was your best performance ever?" She looked up, with a half smile. Thinking. She replied "You will have to tell me."
Anna was great. Before coming to Vienna, I had thought maybe the really great days were over for Anna. Obviously now, I think otherwise. 
The great unexpected revelation of the evening was Joseph Calleja. He is tall and chubby, but with the most beautiful relaxed natural stage presence. He totally evokes Pavarotti at his young best. Blest with a voice that improves the higher it goes, he also has a wonderful emotional openness that let's him change from anger to love in a moment. He is the first singer I have ever heard who reminds me of Enrico Caruso. There were moments in the party scene when I could not breath for the emotional roller coaster he was taking us on. He entered the party singing his opening lines with visible irony - when did I last hear a singer sing ironically! And the moment where in his anger at Violetta he is suddenly taken over by his feelings of love for her were literally breathtaking. This totally took me back to performances of Domingo I had seen in my youth over 20 years ago.
I am so glad I recorded the evening! Roll on Bohème in Munich. I think Netrebko and Calleja together are sensational."

Our blog friend Anne-Laure, who had also attended the performance on 7. May, attended also this performance. She also believes that this last performance was the best of the run and probably one of the best Anna's performances of La Traviata. Anne-Laure wrote a detailed report in french, collecting her impressions about the two performances she attended, on the forum Barjopera. It is particularly interesting to compare and see the differences between the two performances.

Curtain call photo by Philip Bajo

Related Posts
La Traviata, Wiener Staatsoper, Wien 4. May 2009
La Traviata, Wiener Staatsoper, Wien 7. May 2009


  1. Thanks Attila for such fantastic review. Reading the report, it has been *almost* like being there! Several ones reported that Anna protrayed a quite different Violetta, mainly compared to Salzburg. But, now you are saying also that she portrayed a quite different one compared to the one she did at the ROH. I was there at the ROH and it has hard to believe she can did it even better! ;)

    I am glad that Calleja was also so fantastic.

    I love Anna's detail, still being there on the stage, after so many curtain calls and appearing once again through that small door... lovely!

  2. Great review Attila - many thanks.

  3. Thank you for the very fine review! Having been there on 11. May I also felt the very special moments during the whole evening. I was surprised by the exceptional warmth of Anna´s performence. And even after the end.

    Thank you very much, Anna!



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