Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Traviata in SF

Monday was our last opera performance of the Santa Fe season. Here I am, at our tailgate picnic. The menu was cold chicken and vegetable salad with red wine-dijon dressing, home-made focaccia bread with Parmesan and rosemary, fresh sliced, sugared peaches, and home-made apple tarts for dessert. Yum! And the sunset on the the mountains to boot.

We saw La Traviata with Natalie Dessay singing Violetta. I used to want to change voices with Kathleen Battle. Now I want to change voices with Natalie Dessay. She gave not only an amazing acting performance (who would have thought she could really make you feel sympathy for Violetta!?) but her singing was superb. I understand many say she was not a real "Violetta", but for me, hearing her nuanced vocal performance was a treat after much soprano screeching, if you know what I mean. The two male principles (sung by Saimir Pirgu and Laurent Naouri) also had fabulous voices. And the orchestra was wonderful as always, large and melodramatic in typical Verdi fashion.

True to opera, of course, the story line of Traviata is a bit sordid. Verdi and librettist F. M. Piave attempt to introduce a little redemption in the name of religion at the end, but it was too little too late. And they didn't resist the temptation to make the one noble character apologize for his own good sensibilities. Contrary to the text, religion is never able to bring lasting comfort to us: only a relationship with Christ can do that. Still, it was a night of gorgeous music!

Below is a concert version of one of the arias from la Traviatta sung by Ms. Dessay. It should be enough to entrance any of you who have never seen her perform. She is marvelous.

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