|Leo Nucci||Pere Germont|
One of the seven operas on DVD released in June 2001 by Deutsche Grammophon is a ''La Traviata'' (071 431-9) from a 1995 Covent Garden production. Here Georg Solti leads the Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House headed by Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu. Critic/commentator Albert Innaurato calls her ''the most complete Violetta on video.'' Now he did not mean the best vocally or even physically or dramatically; but as a whole, she is the most satisfying. Where Stratas looks half dead throughout the Zeffirelli film and others simply look too healthy for Act III, Gheorghiu (who, by the way, never had sung this role before!) manages to look fragile at her own party, stunning all in black at Flora's, and ''at death's door'' in her squalid apartment, the walls of which seem to ascend forever toward heaven. Tenor Frank Lopardo has some sense of acting his part beyond generalized suffering and is in good voice. The only really jarring notes are the unpleasant makeup of Leo Nucci as the Father and his unpleasant voice, which did not seem to bother the appreciative audience that night. The Gypsy scene, for once, did not work too well, nor did the camping up of the Spanish number, unless one considers it part of the decadence of the world the heroine will soon be leaving. The scenery for the first act seemed unnecessarily cramped, a little rest area in Violetta's much larger home; but the unfinished state of the country home was just right. Were those pictures leaning against the wall waiting to be put up or taken away for sale? And the little swatches of wallpaper on the molding were a good touch. The shadows of the carnival revelers through the slats of the Act III scenery was also effective. Now and then, the voices would fade away as if too far from a microphone; and then the sound would swell up so suddenly that I kept diving for the volume control. Was this an engineering problem or did it sound like that in the theater? The audience is absolutely silent, keeping applause and cheers for the curtain calls. All things considered, this set is very worth having for the Violetta alone. The DVD runs 135 minutes in the 4:3 screen ratio with subtitles in English, French, German, and Chinese.