Cher Public

Conspicuous consumption

sills-traviataEven though New Year’s has passed, let’s keep the bubbles flowing with a classic 1974 New York City Opera La traviata with Beverly Sills, John Stewart, and Dominic Cossa conducted by Julius Rudel. 

My generation will remember Frank Corsaro’s production well: it was unlike any La traviata we’d ever seen before.  In addition to the heightened drama it included details such as dusty outlines on the walls of Violetta’s bedroom from which paintings had been removed to be sold, and among the partygoers in Act One George Sand, in male attire, dancing with another woman.

La traviata was likely the opera which remained in Sills’ repertoire for the longest time: 1951 through 1977.  This was one of her last Violettas at NYCO, a bit more than a year before her Met debut in L’assedio di Corinto.  She would also do a handful of Violetta’s at the Met under the condition that Sarah Caldwell stand on the podium, the first woman in the company’s history to do so.

Sills was 44 in this performance, making her the eldest of the trio of NYCO regulars with whom she shared the stage: Stewart was 33; Cossa was 38 and on the verge of a brief but memorable Met career after debuting at NYCO in 1961.

This performance was taped from the audience at New York State Theater, but the quality is quite good, if not up to broadcast standards.

All best wishes for 2017 to my listeners and followers.  Last week you made Elsa Lanchester’s Bawdy Cockney Songs #4 on Mixcloud’s Comedy chart.  I am hard at work on this year’s uploads and am responding to many requests in addition to completing the operatic works of several composers.  Herzlichsten Dank!

  • Thank you so much for this treasure trove. Happy new year and happy listening.

  • Sanford Schimel

    No apostrophe in plural Violettas.