This new Traviata belongs near the top of the fine recorded versions of the opera despite a serious vocal problem in the middle. The great news is in the casting of the two lovers: Rolando Villazon's Alfredo is just about perfect. He sings with handsome, shaded tone, great attention to the text–his anger feels as real as his grief and passion–and absolute freedom throughout the range.
Two of the biggest names in opera join forces for a live performance from historic Red Square in the heart of Moscow, captured in stunning sound and vision with 18 high definition cameras and 5.1 cinema surround sound. Recorded at a superb live concert on 19 June 2013, Anna Netrebko and Dmitri Hvorostovsky return to their native Russia, singing a brilliant programme of popular arias and duets from some of the world’s best-loved operas, including Tosca, Eugene Onegin, and, celebrating Verdi's bicentenary, Il trovatore.
Lovers of Il trovatore a work famous for its perennially popular cavatinas and cabalettas rightly expect the singers to be at the very top of their vocal game and particularly look forward to the top C at the end of Manrico s stretta, a true do di petto produced not from the head but from the chest. Yet the production of the work that was staged at the end of 2013 by the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin jointly run by Daniel Barenboim and Jürgen Flimm deliberately flouted these expectations and traded familiarity for astonishment. Such a reaction was due not only to the two most famous singers of our age, both of whom were appearing onstage for the first time in their respective roles, but also to the company s music director, who made it abundantly clear that he was concerned with more than just a feast for the ears and rousing rum-ti-tum rhythms.
Three new releases this month (March) feature tenor Rolando Villazon–a CD of Zarzuela arias, one of works by Monteverdi, and this new DVD of a performance at the Vienna State Opera in 2005 of Donizetti's L'Elisir d'amore. Villazon is a remarkably versatile tenor and he puts his individual stamp on everything he does. Nemorino was a role in the repertoire of all "three tenors" in the 1970s and '80s: Domingo brought a certain smoothness to it early in his career, but his voice soon grew too heavy; Pavarotti was simple, affectionate, and bright-toned; and Carreras had vulnerability and warmth. Villazon has it all… –Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
Anna Netrebko, Rolando Villazón, and Jules Massenet’s Manon would seem to be a match made in heaven. (…) The spectacular and ultra-colorful Paterson production looks great on Blu-ray, and all of his artful choreography, sets, and costumes contribute to keeping Massenet’s very long score alive. Audio formats are PCM stereo and PCM and DTS 5.1 surround sound. The surround options contain a slightly larger than usual contribution from the rear speakers that totally immerses you in the listening experience in high-resolution sound. Needless to say, Blu-ray offers visual splendors that are not wasted in this production. (…) Very highly recommended!