Cher Public

Broadcast: La Traviata

La Cieca is sure there will be as many opinions as listeners to this afternoon’s broadcast of La traviata starting at 1:00 PM. Be sure to make your voice heard in the comments section  below.

  • Brackweaver

    I missed the beginning of the broadcast. Any cast changes?

    • calaf47

      No…cast is intact unfortunately

      • Brackweaver

        Thanks. Oh well, nothing’s perfect. Yoncheva sounds less at ease on top. Maybe it’s early.

  • Brackweaver

    I hear willpower!

  • calaf47

    It’s not an “easy sing” for her…

  • Act One is probably the weakest part of Yoncheva’s Violetta.

  • Brackweaver

    Some nice articulation in her upward scales.

  • Degan

    Seems like Yoncheva and Netrebko are not that far away nowadays comparing Act 1. Both with slow tempi, many extra breaths, not the easiest coloratura. That makes no probelm in Ah forse lui but in Sempre libera.
    Compared to Gheorghiu’s first act 10 years ago, this is second rate (whatever one might say about her otherwise)…

    • ines

      yes, I agree with you… and Hampson and 75 year old Leo Nucci , singing Germont at this same moment at laScala , are not that far apart either. I was a big fan of Hampson… and the passing of time cannot take it away

    • ines

      Gheorghiu heard live , though was a big disappointment… that tiny voice…

      • Degan

        But even a tiny voice her phrasing, tempi, middle voice and high notes, coloratura and style fit Violetta like a glove. Something I have not witnessed from anyone else in the last 20 years and I heared a lot of them live (Jaho, Lungu, Rebeka, Netrebko, Fleming, Dessay, Kurzak, Mula). IMO Lungu comes closest to my ideal Violetta from the active ones…

        • ines

          Thank you for bringing up a rare name in the households -- Lungu. A wonderful singer.
          Kurzak was also perfectly fine as Violetta.
          But the one that really moved me recently was Patrizia Ciofi

          • Degan

            If I were to decide, I would give the premier 2018/19 to Lungu or Sierra.
            Kurzak was fine but not more, now the role is past her…
            Lungu I heared at the debut in 2007 and a year ago. She has it all as Violetta (not the most beautiful voice but a very secure technique, very good coloratura, legato, top notes up to an effortless ringing Eb and most of all experience of about 110 Violettas all over the world).

  • Degan

    Yoncheva was heartbreaking in act 2. What a Callas-like middle voice, beautiful, full of colors, good phrasing, excellent Italian. But most important of all full of emotions!

  • Jenny Tripp

    Hampson sounds worse than he did Tuesday.

  • Peter

    Hampson is barking.

    • More like croaking. My friend who heard him the other night said he sounded like wood being sanded.

      • Bill

        Poison Ivy -- Hampson was once a wonderful lyrical baritone and I do not think he sang beyond his fach
        or pushed his voice so much (many concerts and lieder recitals as well) and I am not sure why some of these types of Baritones so dramatically lose their freshness of voice so early.. Bo Skovhus is another whose voice is hardly what it was and Kwiechen as well, In the previous generation both Eberhardt Waechter and Sherrill Milnes suffered
        early vocal decline -- all 5 sang Don Giovanni which
        is hardly a voice breaker. It was always my opinion that baritones lasted longer than tenors or sopranos
        and that would be cemented by looking at Taddei or
        Nucci or some bass-baritones such as Kunz or
        Schoeffler but I guess vocal durability is just something which cannot be predicted.

        • Simon Keenlyside is another lyric baritone who’s had a severe vocal crisis.

          • ER

            Gerard Finley on the other hand seems to have gone the other way, getting vocally heftier and richer without losing anything.

            • berkeleygirl

              Finley was splendid a season or two back here in Tannhauser, and I’d add Peter Mattei to the mix. Most of all, I’d add who I consider, despite his wide acclaim, still a rather under-appreciated artist -- Sir Thomas Allen. In this clip, at 58, he sings a Largo al Factotum that would put most baritones to shame.

        • Peter

          It’s not as if Hampson has had early burnout. He’s been singing professionally over 30 years. He made his Met debut in 1986. I just always thought he was more comfortable in lighter fare, Mozart and lieder. I never thought he had anywhere near the right sound or weight for Verdi.

        • Zac

          Not too many baritones these days with the longevity of Robert Merrill.

  • If there’s one part of Sonya’s portrayal that I don’t like it’s the overwrought way she shouts “E tardi.”

    • Degan

      But the rest is perfect!

      • ines

        I find her very compelling…. but a little worry creeps into my mind , her being so young…. I hope she will not burn the candle from both ends

        • ines

          well, what the heck… a wonderful artist

          • Degan

            As Ivy wrote, the best overall Violetta since Gheorghiu. Also maybe the best Desdemona, Norma and Mimi at the moment. What else do I wish?! She did more at her young age on a high quality level than the likes of Radvanovsky, Netrebko, Gheorghiu…

    • cielo e mar

      I wish she’d find more contrasts, more specifics in “Addio del passato.” Doing the 2 verses becomes monotonous. (Why not the 2nd in “Ah fors’e lui” while they’re at it? Or opening the cuts in the upcoming duets?)
      Ivy — thank you so much for your report on the Borras Werther! I was eyeing that performance all year, but couldn’t get there. Was he covering the other performances? In any case a shame he didn’t get more of Werther … and Romeo! How about Faust in the future? Manon?

      • Yes he was the Werther cover. He’s singing Faust in Vienna soon. Unfortunately the planned livestream of that Vienna Faust was cancelled :(

        • cielo e mar

          Cover. What a waste. I hope Gelb heard the response to his single performance. Pearl Fishers would also be great for him.

          • He is singing a full run of Nicias next season.

    • Olivero Fan

      I actually liked her E tardi. Not so thrilled with her flat floated A’s.

  • cielo e mar

    Luisotti ruins that duet with the weird tempo changes. Verdi marks it “Andante mosso,” 112 to the 8th note. I think it’s meant to convey Alfredo’s breathlessness getting there, and Violetta’s breathlessness for other reasons! That’s about where it started, only to fall apart.

    • ER

      An overall exciting performance!1 but I don’t like this format of the chat. Seems to rob a lot of the spontaneity and the back and forth.

      • cielo e mar

        Agreed re the format. If we avoided the Reply “button” and used “Join the Discussion” for everything, all new entries would be first (or last, depending on how you sort)? Sure, topics might jump around, but if you’re following the thread, it’s pretty easy to follow. My memory is that’s the way the old chat feed worked.

  • Beautiful B-flat on “Oh gioia.”

  • Olivero Fan

    Why do they always cut,”E spento.” “O rio dolor.”

    I miss it.

    • Pirelli

      I assume it’s been a longstanding tradition to give the diva the last word. Though I agree with you, I prefer what Verdi actually wrote. The orchestral part sounds better there to me with the vocals than just by itself.

      BTW -- I don’t know if “rio” was your misposting or not -- because the same mistake is in the Schirmer score (at lest the older printing I have.) It should be, of course, “O mio dolor.”

  • Now! WHRB-FM Cambridge Harvard Radio 95.3 Post-Met Vocal Program

  • Laura

    Thomas Hampton sounded so sad! Such a wonderful lieder singer and champion of American music. He still looks great but should not be singing this role. It was painful. He has had a long and distinguished career, but the elder Germont is clearly beyond him at age 62 (so I don’t agree that he has prematurely lost his voice — he has had a long and distinguished career) I think Fabiano has a very inconsistent voice. His technique is shaky and his acting was….overwrought to say the least. Yoncheca clearly uncomfortable in the first act, very fine thereafter. PS: can’t they give him a suit that fits? OK, last comment bitchy.

    • Rick

      Whatever people think of Placido Domingo, his Germont (at least to my ears) are considerably more listenable than how Thomas Hamson sang today (despite being 76 and a tenor). I wonder if not even Mr Croft (who sang Baron Dophol) wouldn’t have sounded better…

      • Laura


      • Zac

        Croft has sung this role numerous times and is still in terrific voice, but he has to be the laziest baritone in opera.

        • Last time I heard Croft — Ping in the HD of Turandot with Stemme — his voice was sounding rather worn. Though he might have still been better than Hampson. Agreed about Domingo.

          • Porgy Amor

            Croft had some rough moments in that, yes, especially in the big scene for the trio. I hoped he was singing through something and it is not his current baseline. It was another winter performance.

    • aulus agerius

      It isn’t the suit, it seems to be him. He almost always looks uncomfortable in his clothes (to me :-))

  • PCally

    Was in the audience. As has been said,Yonchevas act one is not her strength but she was absolutely incredible from act two on. Her last act was literally perfect, vocally and dramatically. To nitpick, I think she’s not quite polished as a performer, I felt a bit like I was seeing lots of excellent ideas about violetta than a fully drawn character and up until act three I could have used some more dynamic contrasts. But what a complex, almost flickering sound she has! And she’s insanely charismatic and beautiful to boot. Certainly the best violetta this production has scenes and that includes Netrebko. Ditto Fabiano the best alfredo I’ve ever seen live, beautifully sung and the most complex take I’ve ever seen on this role. Heartbreaking because alfredo proves himself to be a product of the society he was raised in and his anger and aggression toward yoncheva was such a beautiful portrayal of toxic masculinity. Hampso wasn’t so bad in the house and when singing quietly did some lovely things, but he’s a total fake onstage and the voice basically fell apart in the last scene. Conducting was fine without being anything special but I thought the smaller roles were very well cast. I think the production is a bit overhyped and doesn’t really do much for me up until and the second scene of act two onward where it suddenly becomes absolutely devestating. I had forgotten about the new violetta being carried away on the clock, an absolutely brilliant touch. I still prefer the Carsen and the retired mussbach from Berlin.

    Aprile millio was sitting two rows behind me and she booked it seconds after the opera ended.

    • southerndoc1

      The consensus on Opera -- L is that it was the worst Traviata in Met history (or at least since Frances Saville in 1893).

      • rapt

        Wow! For me, a ready weeper, this (seen on HD--my first experience seeing this production) was the first Traviata that brought tears, several times. I couldn’t help contrasting it to the first Traviata I ever saw (also first live opera and first Met experience)--John Alexander and Adriana Maliponte (beautiful-voiced) standing at the lip of the stage, facing the audience, for the brindisi, and again, during the “Un di felice” duet, standing side by side with eyes glued to the conductor as he, apparently, conducted their cadenza. True, Alexander (like Merrill, the Germont) was commonly regarded as bearing the same relationship to acting as antimatter to matter, but I couldn’t help wondering if there was a larger meaning of some sort in this historical contrast.

        Observation #2: Hampson seemed not quite so bad as on the first night broadcast, but still unfortunate. What surprised me, though, was his interview during the intermission, where he showed a charm I didn’t expect from what else I had read/heard of him, as he said a promised hello to a granddaughter and made a silly face.

        • Porgy Amor

          I have always had a good opinion of Hampson based on how he presents in interviews. He is articulate and interesting, and he really cares about the art form. He acquitted himself well on some British “confrontational” talk show where he was the designated person to counter the host’s onslaught that opera is elitist and antiquated.

          He also deftly fielded a “What advice do you have for younger singers?” question in a prior Met HD (Hoffmann). Paraphrasing: Practice, practice, practice. Sing what suits your voice. Sing as beautifully as possible. Be an artist and let the “career” (you could hear the air quotes) take care of itself.

          • ines

            yep… I am a Hampson fan since 30 years , and same goes for Mattila. His Posa in London was breathtaking…w Mattila as Elisabetta. And like you say, such an intelligent artist

          • I do find him rather full of himself but I can put him into the “lovably pompous” category. But I agree that he is always articulate and charming in his off-stage interviews. And he’s a real intellectual and brings that perspective to music.

            I do agree that he should be sticking to lieder. He has long experience with it and has always loved the song repertoire. It suits his voice which still has an attractive basic timbre. His Germont didn’t sound terrible but he definitely did do some barking. And he sounded tired in some of the passages even early on in his scene. He would sound better in music that isn’t as taxing and in which he can utilize his interpretive skills.

        • DonCarloFanatic

          Yes, his moment of breaking out of the “serious artist” mold to show himself fun-loving was very appealing.

          Germont is a dumping ground for guys past their prime, which is a shame, because it’s a beautiful piece. I want to hear all the verses, too, but they usually cut it short just because the singer can’t handle any more.

      • Lohenfal

        I listened to the radio broadcast, so I wasn’t distracted by any visuals. The main problems were Luisotti and Hampson. I’ve heard a number of SF broadcasts with Luisotti, and none of them were especially convincing. Maybe the SF audiences find him more appealing. As for Hampson, he’s obviously no longer suitable for opera. If he has any future in singing, it would be in Lieder. He’s always been more persuasive in German than in Italian--his Lied von der Erde with the NY Phil last year was quite moving. If he feels he isn’t ready to retire, that’s the work he should be doing, not Verdi at the Met.

  • Every time I see this post, I think of Porgy Amor’s comment that Fabiano looks like he’s saying “Honey, I got the job!” in the photo. LOL

    • Porgy Amor

      Pete (Michael Fabiano) and Trudy (Sonya Yoncheva) celebrate Pete’s making partner at SCDP in a scene from Mad Men: The Opera.

      Also starring Peter Mattei as Don Draper, El?na Garan?a as Betty Draper, Sophie Koch as Megan Calvet Draper, and Tara Erraught as Peggy Olson.

      • Cameron Kelsall

        Sophie Koch as Megan Calvet Draper**

        **Replaced by Clementine Margaine in rehearsals.

      • Cicciabella

        Very good, Porgy. But can you imagine the school-marmerish Koch in singing a leggy Zou Bisou Bisou?

        • Porgy Amor

          Possibly, if she were in her “Octavian in the Wernicke production” mode. She mugged and showed a nice set of gams in the opening scene. “Schoolmarmish” aptly describes some of her dramatic assumptions, though.