Cher Public

Slow curtain, the end

Here’s a taste of what’s in store for the Met’s HD audience on Saturday, as well as a spectacle audiences for later performances will likely miss. (Oh, haven’t you heard? After the broadcast, Natalie Dessay traditionally suffers a relapse of her maladie du jour…)

Photo: Marty Sohl. Video: Metropolitan Opera.

  • manou

    A footnote on the production -- it seemed clear to me that in Act II, because the scene shifted so swiftly to the Flora party scene, it must have first taken place in Alfredo’s fevered imagination, with the guy in the dress and the (impressive) cardboard bull a nightmarish illusion. It would of course have to segue into reality for the scene to make sense. However, it seems that nobody agrees with me (not an unusual occurrence) and I was wondering whether any of the illustrious Parterrians had this thought as well?

    • For the scene to have taken place in “Alfredo’s fevered imagination” that would have required what came before and after to be presented naturalistically. But in fact nobody lives in a section of a ballroom with 40-foot ceilings, or throws parties where 60 men all show up in the identical black suit, or has a country house furnished (solely) with six identical modern sofas covered with enormous flower-print throws. Neither, in any sort of documentary vision of real life would a woman who has just been asked to abandon her love react by slowly stripping the throws from the sofas and then removing her own dress. One might also mention the mysterious glowering doctor and the 12-foot-tall clock. None of this is meant to be a depiction of a specific real situation.

      In other words, this Traviata is not “real” but rather is a sort of vision or ritual action. In that context, the immediate shift to the party scene would seem to me meant to suggest (in an exaggerated fashion) how the wild emotional state of Alfredo have subjectively made the several hours of time between afternoon and midnight seem to go by in an instant. Or, to put it another way, as he perceives the experience, “One moment I saw her letter and the very next, it seemed, I was at a party where everyone was laughing at my disgrace.”

      By the same token, I don’t think that, realistically speaking, Violetta would die wandering aimlessly around that big empty ballroom while everyone else sat passively on the sidelines looking on. But as an indicator of emotional affect this way of staging the scene is very strong: in the moment of death, Violetta is utterly alone, and all those who love her are so consumed by their own grief that they withdraw from her.

      There’s also I think an element of criticism of Traviata and the various underlying layers of play, novel and remembered experience: Dumas, Armand, Alfredo and we the audience are free to admire the unselfishness of Marguerite/Violetta largely because she so conveniently dies in horrible agony at the end of the tale. A courtesan who performed an act of disinterested charity to reaffirm bourgeois morality and then, for lack of any other marketable skills, returned to her life of whoring, at which profession she then amassed a tidy fortune and then lived out the end of her days as the fat landlady of a pension — well, that would require rather more complicated and subtle moral analysis from the spectator. And so Decker places Violetta’s intimates as mere onlookers to her death, just as we in the audience passively sit and observe her agonies for our evening’s entertainment.

      • manou

        Thank you for taking the trouble to elucidate the focus of the production so clearly. I am grateful for the erudite interpretation.

  • florezrocks

    I dispute Netrebko’s claim she couldn’t compete with herself. I heard her magnificent Trovatore aria in concert last summer, and I think she’s very much advanced technically since the original Traviata dvd.

    also to all who are saying Dima phoned it in…i don’t understand. this is marvellous singing…

    • manou

      He is using a (very) smartphone.

    • Porgy Amor

      I don’t think Netrebko’s reluctance to compete with her younger self is exclusively about vocal matters in this case.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    So wrong and so grotesque!

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      Fallen from what? Where is there any inkling that this Violetta was one of the most famous courtesan’s in the Parisian demi-monde? Definitely the worst Violetta since Celestina Caspietra

      Casapietra must be forgiven everything because of this:

      • Camille

        O thank you so much for this. I was just thinking of him this afternoon while listening to Chenier on Sirius. He is now, and forevermore, my beloved poeta. To die for

      • There’s just gotta be a story behind this. Not that she’s a bad Madelena -- I’ve heard much worse- but considering the time it was filmed (and almost criminally lip synced) one can only wonder if Miss Tebaldi or Miss Scotto etc couldn’t sing that week cos she’d just washed her hair or something. La Casapietre seemed to flash in then flash out hardly to be heard of again. There’s precious little on the internet about her- so even the story about her Violetta is a small revelation.

  • Do you want to listen to a real Violetta, with a healthy voice and a good, sensible ligne du chant? Here she is, just a couple of days ago, Maria Agresta (conducted by Mrs. Gelb, by the way). Hopefully Keri Lynn Wilson will speak about her to her husband (who probably will tell her she must shed a few lbs before singing Traviata at the Met)

    • Camille

      Very interesting. Where was this done and grazie, Ercole. An E flat come si deve!

    • TB gets it off real quick!

  • SopracutO

    This is the REAL audio file of the MET performance:

    • Camille

      Porca miseria!
      I forgot how sick this made me feel. Never again.