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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 2, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 40
Glyndebourne La Traviata with Michael Fabiano
Arts & Entertainment
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Glyndebourne La Traviata with Michael Fabiano

by Rod Parke - SGN A&E Writer

LA TRAVIATA
AT GLYNDEBOURNE
GIUSEPPE VERDI
LONDON PHILHARMONIC
BLU-RAY


To be honest, I ordered this new Blu-ray of Verdi's La Traviata only because the tenor role of Alfredo is sung by Michael Fabiano. This outstanding young tenor recently sang in Seattle the best Rodolfo (La Boheme) I have ever seen or heard. You may remember he was the last of the winners announced in the Met Audition documentary of a few years ago.

Vocally, Fabiano does not disappoint. His technique appears flawless, allowing him to sing with much expression, beauty, and excitement. However, throughout this performance at Glyndebourne in 2014, all the singers appear to have been left to their own devices dramatically, and Fabiano does not yet appear to have acquired a big enough palette of emotive gestures to make his acting altogether convincing. He is always passionate and involved but appears sometimes to be forcing it.

In Seattle, under apparently better direction, his Rodolfo suffered no such deficiency. In fact it was his acting, on top of his spectacular singing, that made his performance really special. I do think Alfredo is the more difficult role dramatically because he has long periods (very long, as in his first scene with his father) when he does not sing but must convey his reactions to what another is singing. In such moments, his emotional message appeared confused and awkward.

The all-important role of Violetta is sung by the young Russian soprano Venera Gimadieva. She is beautiful and charming, and her voice is at all times lovely, including some nice soft singing in high notes. She reminds me, in fact, of Anna Netrebko. But she appears in need of better coaching when it comes to making the most of this very expressive music. (At the other extreme, I long ago saw a rather old Licia Albanese at the old Met overact every moment of this role in a rather grand but old fashioned operatic mode of acting. Albanese recently died at 105.) Gimadieva merely skirted the surface of her most emotive lines, often missing the phrasing and accents that can tear your heart out. She needs far more study of how Verdi was guiding her to express her feelings.

Greek baritone Tassis Christoyannis sings Alfredo's father, the other major role. He sings well but lacks the warmth in his voice that I want in a papa Germont. He too acts in a rather wooden manner. (One could run off on a tangent on the big subject of how the memory of the greatest singers such as Leonard Warren and Robert Merrill can forever spoil a role for an opera lover. But I resist...)

The production is of no particular period, rather sparse, but might be adequate were it not for the poor direction. The choreography of the second act party scene is just awful. Mark Elder is the excellent conductor who manages to keep it all together.

Reviewer Rod Parke can be reached at rmp62@columbia.edu.

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SLGFF OPENING NIGHT FILM: An interview with Freeheld co-star Ellen Page
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Seattle Women's Chorus presents
'Hallows in the Cathedral: Spirits Rising'
with Guest Star Rebekah Del Rio (10/23 & 24 ONLY)

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Pacific Northwest Ballet: 'See the Music'
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Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival celebrates 20th Anniversary October 8-18
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An interview with Audra McDonald
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The Art of Bad Men an unusual story brought to life with verve
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Glyndebourne La Traviata with Michael Fabiano
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'Queen: It's a Kinda Magic' recreates the Queen sensation
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October 2015 brings another month of exciting theater openings
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Philadelphia lives op to its name: City of Brotherly (and Sisterly) Love
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Horror Fest 2015 showcases radio thrillers
Puget Sound FM celebrates Halloween with a free collection and a month of programming specials.

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Reflections on the county clerk in Kentucky
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Visually thrilling Walk an emotional coup
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Roth's Inferno a horrific descent into inhuman madness
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Mercilessly tense Sicario a descent into drug-fueled darkness
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Emotion and nature walk hand-in-hand in Wildlike
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