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Starts at 3:00 pm on Sunday, 20 May 2012
Starring Natalie Dessay , Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Matthew Polenzani with the Met Opera Chorus& Orchestra conducted by Fabio Luisi
This week’s opera from the New York Met is Verdi’s La Traviata. As he neared the age of 40, Verdi could look back on a series of successes, culminating in Rigoletto and Il Trovatore. With a commission from the Teatro La Fenice in Venice, the composer looked not to another heroic, patriotic subject or large-canvas melodrama but to a play on a contemporary theme, La Dame aux Camélias, by Alexandre Dumas, taken from the playwright’s earlier novel. The character of Violetta was based on the real-life courtesan Rose Alphonsine Plessis, known as Marie Duplessis in the demimonde she inhabited.
The première, in March 1853, was a fiasco due in part to the work’s realistic social theme. The singers were no help: the soprano was overweight, the tenor in bad voice and the baritone dissatisfied with his role. In a different production, at another Venetian theatre a year later, the work had a triumph. It reached the US at the New York Academy of Music in December 1856.
In the role of Violetta in this Met production is one of today’s most successful coloratura sopranos, Natalie Dessay. Famous in her earlier career for a very high upper extension, limpid intonation and superb coloratura, Dessay became more recognized in recent years for her dramatic and comedic flair as a singing actress.
In her youth, Dessay had intended to be a ballet dancer, and then an actress. She discovered her talent for singing while taking acting classes, and was encouraged to study voice at the Conservatoire de Bordeaux. At the competition Les Voix Nouvelles she was awarded First Prize (Premier Prix de Concours) followed by a year's study at Paris Opera's Ecole d'Art Lyrique. Others in the cast include Matthew Polenzani (Alfredo) and Dmitri Hvorostovsky (Germont).
(Source: Met Opera)
This performance was recorded live at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and supplied to Radio New Zealand through the EBU
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