Tuesday, May 5, 2009

La Traviata, Wiener Staatsoper, Wien 4. May 2009

4. Mai 2009

(274. 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

Yesterday, on 4. May 2009, the opera diva Anna Netrebko was back on stage at the Wiener Staatsoper as Violetta Valéry, for the sold-out premiere of La Traviata in a classical Otto Schenk's production. Anna was partnered on the stage by Joseph Calleja as Alfredo Germont and Vladimir Stoyanov, replacing the originally scheduled Alberto Gazale, as Giorgio Germont, in the leading roles. Two more sold-out performances, with the same cast, are scheduled at the Wiener Staatsoper on 7. and 11. May 2009.

Our blog friend Herbert attended the first of the three performances. He reports that the audience was enthusiastic, that Anna and Joseph Calleja got many curtain calls and that the first reviews are very good. Herbert reports:
Still, compared to Zürich, I had the impression that Anna's voice was sometimes a bit strained - maybe because of her trip to St. Petersburg? She often says that Violetta is a very exhausting role and she can't sing it too often, she needs some rest between the performances. So the concert at the Mariinsky Theatre was no real recovery.

But even when she had some minor problems in between - she was excellent. Especially the duet with Germont (Vladimir Stoyanov) and the dying scene were past comparison. Joseph Calleja as Alfredo is a very good partner. I am looking forward to seeing him again with Anna in La Bohème in München.

The Zürich production was very modern - here in Wien it was a traditional production and setting, but not bad. Anna could wear lavish costumes and jewelry again.

After the show there was the usual crowd and jostle at the stage door. Anna accepted to be photographed with her fans and she signed lots of CDs and photos, etc.

Our blog friend Rhodri also attended the first performance and wrote a report for us:
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 different 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...

Our blog friend Irina, owner of the blog Around the world with Irina, also attended this performance and wrote a detailed report on her blog. You can find also there a nice album of photos covering spectacular views of the house, curtain calls and signatures session at the stage door. Some of those photos are included here with her kind permission.

Poster, curtain calls and stage door photos 1, 11-12, 16-19 by Herbert. Curtain calls and stage door photos 2-10, 13-15 by Irina.

Press Reviews
Traviata-Charme mit einem Hauch von Irritation, derStandard.at 5. Mai 2009 [German]
WIEN / Staatsoper: LA TRAVIATA von Giuseppe Verdi 4. Mai 2009, Der Neue Merker 5. Mai 2009 [German]
Wiener Staatsoper: LA TRAVIATA am 4.5.2009, Der Neue Merker 5. Mai 2009 [German]
LA TRAVIATA „Tolstoi’sche Schwermut“, operinwien.at 6. Mai 2009 [German]


  1. First of all, thank you so much to Herbert and Rhodri for their reports and photos.

    I would like to add a couple of comments. Anna was in St. Petersburg on 2. May to perform in the concert on occassion of Valery Gergiev's 56th birthday, as reported in the blog. Nevertheless, as far as I know, Anna just sung the aria E Stranno and Sempre Libera from La Traviata. So, it was not a full concert of her.

    Being the Wiener production of La Traviata a classical one, as it was the Eyre's production at the ROH, Anna's performance on stage is quite different than for the iconic Salzburger production. I love both of them.

  2. Attila in CairoMay 6, 2009 at 2:34 PM

    Great reviews. Many thanks. I will be there on the 11th.

  3. I cut and paste part of the comments written by Violetta in another post:

    Apologies for the late info – I was in Wien on 4th May to see and hear Anna singing life for the first time in my life! This was my dream for a long time that finally came true! I was surprised to hear how warm and beautiful her voice sounds – much more different when you listen to her singing life than when you listen to her CD & DVD-recordings! And then the signing – an older man gave her a bunch of lily-of-the-valley, she remembered a Russian song and started singing! It’s useless to say I will never forget this incredible day! I see you already have reviews and photos.
    Kind regards,Violeta

  4. Copy and paste the comment written by Violetta in another post:

    You know Carlos, I was in Vienna thanks to you!
    I have read Mostly Opera’s publication about Standing-room tickets at the Wiener Staatsoper when it was first published a year ago, but I wasn’t sure it works when Anna Netrebko sings. Many nights I had nightmares that I have traveled 1000 km (thit is exactly the distance between Sofia, Bulgaria and Vienna) just to realize that I have started queuing too late! Some minutes later I realized I was only dreaming! When 2 months ago I read that you have not only tried but succeeded to watch her in Lucia using the same option I was sure I’ll be there on 4th May. At 9:15 a.m. I was 10th on the queue and I was watching this amazing performance from the second raw of the standing area in the parterre! Many thanks for sharing your experience with the readers of your blog. Kind regards, Violeta

  5. Thanks to Irina for her photos and to Violetta for her report. How lucky you were after such a long journey to Vienna! But it was worth the effort.

  6. I have to echo Violeta's thoughts about the standing room (I think I was probably two or three places behind you) and was expecting to see a VERY large queue as I'd used the Vienna transport authority's version of the TFL journey planner and had taken about an hour getting from West Bahnhof to the Staatsoper...thankfully, with the knowledge of Carlos' recent experience I wasn't as stressed out as I would normally have been.

    A BIG thank you to Irina & Herbert for their photos - it certainly is a great way to remember a wonderful day and night in Vienna! - Rhodri

  7. I remember you Cardiff Traviata! The man next to me offered you one of his three chairs but you refused it! Have you seen Anna passing along the queue with Tiago in a baby car? My husband has seen them! Unfortunately, at the same time I've been walking around!

  8. Did you saw Anna walking along the queue with Tiago? She did the same when I was on line for Lucia! It was so great!

  9. Violeta - that was indeed me refusing the very kind offer of a chair! I'd irritated a recurring injury in my back the previous night and the three-hour train journey from Budapest that morning had only made it worse, so I preferred (very reluctantly) to stand for most of the day.

    Unfortunately I also missed Anna passing by - I was probably hunting down some food at the time!

  10. Nice to meet you again! All the time I was thinking why do you seem to me familiar!

  11. And now you know why! It's nice to meet you again too! I hope you've recovered after the "Battle of the Stage Door". How many people were inside that small room?!



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