Last year I wrote here about the Franco Zeffirelli production of La Traviata at the Met, and I saw it again, with a different cast, this year. There are so many variables in any performance, including the mood and state of mind of the listener (me) that it’s not easy to judge after an interval of a year why I found the production so much more engaging this time. Last year I seemed irritated by the ballroom scene, Act II scene 2, in a way which surprised me when I re read my comments. This time the whole production seemed to flow seamlessly maybe on account of the lack of surprise in some of the scenic effects.
Violetta was sung by German soprano Anja Harteros, who was very strong and whose performance I enjoyed more that that of Renee Fleming last year. Alfredo Germont was Massimo Giordano, from Italy, who looked youthful and sang well. Last year I wrote about my reevaluation of Giorgo Germont who for many years I wrongly characterized as the most boring person in all of opera. In fact, his dialogue with Violetta in Act II Scene 1 can be fascinating, and the performance of Zeljko Lucic (seen last year as Macbeth at the Met) confirmed this. He began with an outburst, but soon abandoned bluster as he moved through the scene with Violetta. It was a subtle and thoughtful performance. I think it should remain an open question whether his impression of Violetta really affects him emotionally or whether he is a crafty old man determined to get what he wants come what may. If the latter, it adds an interesting twist to his remorse at the end of the opera: a realization that he has been too clever for everyone’s good.
The 951 st production of Verdi's La Traviata at the Metropolitan Opera Saturday 15 November 2008 at 1 pm.