Luciano Pavarotti / Juan Pons / Cheryl Studer / James Levine / Metropolitan Opera Orchestra

Verdi: La Traviata

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This 1991 version of La traviata was Luciano Pavarotti's second studio recording of the opera, the first made in 1979 with Joan Sutherland, with Richard Bonynge conducting. (A very fine live 1965 performance featuring Pavarotti and Mirella Freni and led by Giuseppe Patanè has circulated on a number of minor labels, but the sound quality is poor.) Pavarotti was still in strong voice when this recording was made, but he had lost some of his youthful flexibility. This repertoire was ideally suited to his voice at that point in his career, and he sings with warmth, strength, and passionate intensity. Cheryl Studer makes a powerful impression as Violetta, largely because of the extent to which her character develops over the course of the opera. She sings beautifully throughout with fullness and broad phrasing. In the first act, her Violetta comes across as somewhat artificial, but the wrenching devastation of the second act makes it clear that her initial presentation of a less sympathetic Violetta was intentional; this is a woman who has been truly transformed and deepened by the experience of love. Juan Pons makes an exceptionally persuasive Germont and his anguished second act scene with Violetta is among the high points of the recording. James Levine leads the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus in an intelligent and crisp but unhurried reading of the score. The performance demonstrates the dangers of studio recording: there is a sense of stopping and starting between numbers and the momentum of the opera's larger musical arc isn't always clear. Deutsche Grammophon's sound is clean and clear, but not particularly ambient.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
La Traviata, opera
1
4:06
2
4:35
3
2:49
4
2:16
5
3:06
6
1:16
7
1:36
8
5:47
9
4:33
10
3:23
11
3:31
12
3:31
13
1:44
14
2:09
15
2:44
16
4:33
17
4:42
18
1:50
19
2:19
20
2:10
21
4:28
22
3:00

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
La Traviata, opera
1
1:01
2
2:53
3
2:36
4
3:43
5
2:24
6
1:32
7
1:51
8
4:38
9
3:55
10
4:35
11
7:27
12
0:46
13
5:03
14
3:23
15
1:46
16
4:15
blue highlight denotes track pick