- Obama not worried about Ebola at upcoming African summit in D.C.
- Obama: ‘We tortured some folks’ after 9/11
- Obama administration asked whole D.C. Circuit to take on major Obamacare case
- Mark Levin: Topple GOP leadership or country will ‘unravel’
- Massachusetts to let police chief deny gun buys to those deemed unfit
- John Kerry condemns attack on Israeli soldiers, kidnapping
- U.S. starts to evacuate American Ebola patients from West Africa: Report
- Geraldo slammed as ‘dummy’ for backing Clinton’s bin Laden claim
- Israeli spokesman: No need to debate who broke the cease-fire
- 35 Palestinians killed; Israeli officer missing
Damrau dazzles in debut as Violetta at Met
Question of the Day
NEW YORK (AP) - Two spontaneous eruptions from the audience just about said it all as the Metropolitan Opera revived Willy Decker’s brilliantly stripped-down and de-romanticized production of Verdi’s “La Traviata.”
Placido Domingo, the 72-year-old tenor taking on yet another baritone role, was warmly applauded when he walked onstage Thursday night in his first appearance as Giorgio Germont, father of the young hero, Alfredo.
And when the opera was over and soprano Diana Damrau stepped forward to take a solo bow as the heroine, Violetta, many members of the near-capacity crowd leaped to their feet in one of the more heartfelt and sustained standing ovations in recent memory.
Damrau deserved every bit of it. Her singing from start to finish was nothing short of sensational, from the blazing coloratura pyrotechnics of “Sempre libera” to the lyrical pathos of “Addio del passato.” Her bright, silvery voice rose above the ensembles with ease, and her soft singing was a model of restraint. Most of all, she made the touchstone role her own, with shadings and inflections that set her apart. One example was the way she responded to Alfredo’s late plea that they leave Paris together so she could regain her health: “Parigi, o caro,” she echoed, but her subdued, wistful tone told us she knew it was a vain hope.
Dramatically, the German soprano worked hard to fulfill Decker’s vision of an exhausted, consumptive courtesan compelled to put on her red dress and high-heel shoes to entertain her savage admirers. If other singers have brought more elegance and charisma to their physical embodiment of the character, few have equaled her in portraying Violetta through her music.
That this was Damrau’s debut in the role makes the achievement all the more remarkable. After she had basked awhile in that standing ovation, she broke into a broad grin and jumped up and down several times, waving her arms exuberantly. Who could blame her? Damrau’s triumph, coming on the heels of her splendid Gilda in Verdi’s “Rigoletto” last month, solidifies her position as one of the Met’s most important stars.
As Alfredo, Violetta’s one chance for a loving relationship, Albanian tenor Saimir Pirgu looked every inch the ardent suitor and sounded like one, too _ once he got past a shaky “Libiamo.” In the later scenes, his voice took on a lovely bloom that meshed beautifully with Damrau’s vibrant sound.
Then there was Domingo. He looked smashing, tall and dignified with a shock of white hair, and his portrayal of the stern father was unusually tender and melancholy. He sounded _ well, like an older version of the tenor who used to sing the role of Alfredo, except with a somewhat restricted range. Much of the music came out sounding gorgeous, but many low notes were mere whispers, and he occasionally had to break up a phrase to take a breath. The showpiece aria, “Di Provenza il mar,” is placed well for his voice and made a big hit with the audience, but the deeper-lying cabaletta that followed it was mostly swallowed up.
Conductor Yannick Nezet-Seguin and the Met orchestra managed to make one of opera’s most familiar scores sound fresh and exciting.
There are six more performances through April 6.
TWT Video Picks
By Orrin G. Hatch
Procedural changes impede the chamber's traditional deliberative function
- Border agents cleared of civil rights complaints from illegal immigrant children
- U.N. condemns Israel, U.S. for not sharing Iron Dome with Hamas
- Obama military strategy too weak for future security, panel reports
- Porn-surfing feds blame boredom, lack of work for misbehavior
- Ben Carson takes major step toward presidential campaign
- Feds raid S.C. home to seize Land Rover in EPA emission-control crackdown
- Ted Nugent slams 'lying freaks' at liberal media: I'm 'doing God's work'
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- Report: 40% of weapons sent to Afghanistan are unaccounted for
- House backs faster deportations, cancels 'Dreamer' policy
Top 10 U.S. military helicopters
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors