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I really enjoyed the performance last night. It was my very first live opera and my Violetta was Victoria Loukianetz with Marcello Giordani as Alfredo, conducted by Domingo. I remember it fondly, though perhaps if I heard it today I wouldn't be as impressed. This was Zeffirelli's previous production, with the furniture that few on and off stage every couple of minutes - brilliant! Last night Stoyanova was vocally ravishing, though - as you say Philip - the very top thinned out. I really got the sense she was ill. Kaufmann was magnificent. But who cares what he sounds like; just look at him! I didn't mind Croft's "Di Provenza." I suppose he didn't sound that different in it, or last night in general, than he has in years. And let us all collectively praise the heavens that maestro Rizzi was replaced by maestro Armiliato. Incidentally, apparently Armiliato always conducts from memory.


Oh, and the coughing and sneezing during Act 3. This truly was one of the most ridiculous things I've ever witnessed at the Met. Not a single moment passed when somebody in the audience did not notify the rest of us that they were present. It was out of control and reminded me just one more time that sometimes a nuclear bomb just makes sense.


Yes, the switch from Rizzi to Armiliato was a big benefit. I had written about Marco's conducting but as I hit 'Save' Typepad went down momentarily and I had to re-write the entire post. He has become a really first-rate conductor for the Italian rep; he is very considerate of the singers, his tempi usually feel right and he is not gimmicky.

In this cold, dry weather we should give the singers the benefit of every doubt. Kaufmann had cancelled the previous week (and a recital in DC) with a cold, and Torsten Kerl seems to be ill as well. And Renee was announced as ill during the ONEGIN I attended.

I was watching Stoyanova during 'Amami Alfredo' and she did seem to be sniffling between phrases but if she was ill, she surely covered it up very well. There are 3 more Stoyanova TRAVIATA and they might be webdcast so maybe you'll be able to see if the top sounds any different.

Of course giving the benefit of doubt doesn't apply to singers we don't like to begin with, or should it?

The cough-fest was unbearably ridiculous. I wonder if any of it was done on purpose? There were lots of school kids in the audience.


More 'sick' singers: on the List someone writes that Urmana sang the dress rehearsal of CHENIER on Monday thru a cold.


Hi Philip,

What a coincidence, Traviata is also the opera I’ve seen most often, but I’ve only seen it 3 or 4 times, and two of them have been this season! Seriously, you know I’m a neophyte when it comes to opera, but I enjoyed both of this season’s performances so much that I decided to go back a third time later this week to see Stoyanova with Kaufmann.

I saw Mary Dunleavy with Wookyung Kim a few weeks ago, and enjoyed them a great deal, especially Dunleavy. I liked Kim’s voice but his acting was kind of wooden. This weekend I saw the Gheorghiu/Kaufmann cast, and it was obvious even to a beginner that they approached their roles on a whole different level. Both principles had much more nuance in their voices, more shading and they had great chemistry together. I also preferred John Hancock’s Baron, but I can’t swear that it wasn’t just because he cut such a dashing figure. I liked Dwayne Croft’s Germont a lot, too.

I also saw Egyptian Helen last week. I liked parts of it and loved both Voigt and Damrau, but have to admit that I was battling with my eyelids about halfway through the second act. I think I recall the same thing happening with Elektra 20 years ago, so maybe I’m just not a Strauss fan.


Susan, you'll have to let me know how you think Stoyanova compares with Dunleavy and Gheorghiu.

John Hancock's height and bearing always make him someone to watch (great voice, too). I was sorry that the little mimed scene of the Baron trying to lure Violetta back to the bedroom was omitted in the Stoyanova performance. Hong and Louis Otey created a strong vignette in those few moments: I think it is really important to see Violetta's relationship with the Baron and what she gives up in terms of both fortune and emotional security to go off with Alfredo. Otherwise the Baron just becomes a cipher.

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