Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Librettist: Francesco Maria Piave
First performance: Venice, Teatro La Fenice, 6 March 1853
Destined to become one of the favourite operas of audiences from all over the world, La traviata was not successful at its first performance, especially because Venetian audience disliked its “scandalous” subject. Based on Alexandre Dumas fils’s novel La dame aux camelias, La traviata tells the story of a woman of loose morals (Violetta Valéry) who falls in love with a young man from a good family (Alfredo Germont). After a short period in the country, Violetta is forced to leave Alfredo because his father, concerned for the future of his daughter, explains to Violetta that her daughter’s fiancé refuses to marry her because of his brother’s relationship with Violetta. Violetta returns to her previous lover, but she is followed by Alfredo who makes a scene during a party. Shortly after, Violetta is dying of consumption, but before her death she forgives and is forgiven by Alfredo.
Renata Tebaldi, Gianni Poggi, Aldo Protti
Orchestra e coro dell’Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Roma
Francesco Molinari-Pradelli, conductor
Decca, 1954 (1991)
Despite the fact that Renata Tebaldi has sung the role of Violetta Valéry for more than ten years during her career, nowadays she is more commonly associated with Tosca, La forza del destino (studio recording, 1955 and Naples, 1958), La Bohème and La Gioconda. Definitely, La Traviata is not one of the first operas that come to someone’s mind when thinking about Tebaldi’s repertoire and I think there are at least two reasons to explain this fact.Buy from Amazon
Maria Callas, Giuseppe Di Stefano, Ettore Bastianini
Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
EMI, 1955 (1997)
This is one of the legendary performances of Giuseppe Verdi’s masterpiece La traviata and perhaps the most famous one. Live recorded at the prestigious Teatro alla Scala in Milan on 28th May 1955, the sumptuous production by Luchino Visconti with Maria Callas in the title role and with Carlo Maria Giulini’s conduction has been unluckily only audio recorded, with the loss of the visual elements that must have been outstanding both for setting and acting.
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Maria Callas; Alfredo Kraus; Mario Sereni
Coro e Orchestra Sinfonica do Teatro Nacional de São Carlos, Lisboa
Franco Ghione, conductor
The flaws of the Traviata at La Scala do not affect the one Callas recorded on March 27, 1958 at the Teatro Nacional de São Carlos in Lisbon. With her, there were an almost novice Alfredo Kraus (Alfredo), Mario Sereni (Germont père) and conductor Franco Ghione. The fine performance of the three protagonists, not to speak of a reasonably good sound (better than that of the recording at La Scala), makes this Traviata the best among Callas’s recordings of one of her favourite operas.Buy from Amazon
Montserrat Caballé, Carlo Bergonzi, Sherrill Milnes
Orchestra e Coro della RCA Italiana
Georges Prêtre, conductor
This Traviata is one of Montserrat Caballé’s best recordings. A wonderful cast, a brilliant conductor and the beautiful complex of the RCA are the elements that make this Traviata rightly entered the history.
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