Traviata at the Met. April 10th. Photos and impressions

The 2009/2010 season at the Met was announced 1 year ago. I thought this was the chance for me to finally see Angela in Traviata.


One year later, on April 10th, my little dream came true. Met is an experience in itself. A proper state of mind in needed. Open your heart and receive the beauty.
This was the 4th performance of this run. The cast remained unchanged (Gheorghiu/Valenti/Hampson) as well as the conductor, Steven White. I was so nervous before the overture started as if I was about to sing. Here it goes. I was at the Met and Traviata was ready to start. *sigh*. The overture went gently. The orchestra sounds so well. They know exactly how loud to perform and they pay huge attention to the conductor.
There is a great difference between listening to the broadcast on the radio and being in the venue. The stage noise is almost inexistent (the sound of the high heels and dresses on the floor, the doors opening and closing, even the breathing). This is very good because you can concentrate on the voices. On the other hand, you have to stand the sound of the venue (with coughing, sneezing and so on. There was about one coughing at 15 seconds. I'm so sorry for those on stage!).
The sets are beautiful. Nobody talks about them on the radio or in the reviews. They’re Zefirelli’s trademark. I’m sorry that this is the last “traditional” Traviata at the Met. Next year there’ll be a new production (the one presented in Salzburg, in 2005). But I got to see the one I wanted to see.
In act 1 there’s Violetta’s party room, large wooden panels, big mirrors on the walls, a chandelier. She wears a pink coat (well, it’s not the best word but you can see how it looks like in the pictures that accompanied the first reviews) and white skirt and corset under it. At the beginning of “Sempre libera” she removes the coat and finishes the act in the white outfit. There was so much passion in those arias – E strano/Follie/Sempre libera. The repetition of Follie is well marked as if she wakes up from a dream and gets back to the real life. “Free forever” she says moving continuously on the stage. Until the voice of Alfredo is heard from the backstage. Then the attitude changes again as she rushes to the doors in the background. It was so touching and it ended too soon. There was excitement and also desperation.
The first part of the act 2 shows Violetta’s country house. There are many flowers on the left side of the stage, as well as her writing desk. There’s a table in the middle, a sitting area and a fireplace on the right. Valenti comes first and people cheer again. Two beautiful and well handled arias followed. He gets this part right this time and there’s no problem with the high notes. He leaves and she comes, wearing that gorgeous white with pink flowers dress and a straw hat. As part of the opera, the moment of the duet between Violetta and Germont is my favorite. There is so much sadness in everything they say to each other. Violetta decides to leave Alfredo and there’s a particular color in her voice. Really emotional. She also acts very well. For sensitive people in the audience, that meant a few tears. Hampson’s voice is powerful, although I would have like it to be deeper. And it also seemed that “Di Provenza il mar, il suol” was a little bit too slow. But it was his choice.
The second part of act 2 opens in Flora’s ball room where a Spanish themed party takes place. At the beginning some large pieces of colored lace (resembling big fans) cover the back of the stage. But when the dancers come, they are all being pulled upwards. Angela wears the white dress covered in silver lace and that traditional Spanish cone in her hair. The concertato in the end of the act is even more impressive now that I can also see them on stage. Angela is in the middle, on the steps, Valenti on the right and Hampson on the left. A-ma-zing!
Act 3 follows. It opens in Violetta’s bedroom. It is not all dusty and poor as in most of the productions. At first it seemed strange, but I got it soon. The bed is on the right side of the stage, there’s a sofa in the middle and a door on the left. “Addio del passato” is my favorite aria. I practically devoured it from the first word of the letter to the last note. I couldn’t help shedding a few tears. It was perfect. After singing it, Violetta leaves the stage through the door on the left and she starts getting down on some stairs I hadn’t seen from the beginning. The room she left starts going up. Better said, it’s pushed up by another room that comes from the basement. The place of the bedroom is slowly taken by Violetta’s ball room (the one from the first act). Only that it’s not shiny and colorful anymore. It’s gloomy, dusty and the furniture is all covered up. The doors in the background are broken. It was an unexpected change of sets. Maybe Zefirelli chose the variant in which everything that happens after “Addio del passato” is a story in Violetta’s mind. She only thinks that Alfredo came back to her, a beautiful dream before death. I might be wrong. That’s what I imagined. The death scene is again touching. Violetta lies on a coach while singing the part where she gave the portrait to Alfredo. Then he moves to the right of the stage. She says those last words “io riotorno a vivere” while rising. There is that smile of relief on Violetta’s face. As if she knew that all will end soon. She moves towards Alfredo. He smiles and look happy to see her feeling better. It’s just an illusion. When she reaches “gioia”, she fells in his arms and dies.
Violetta died again. In the most magnificent way possible. I had the same feeling as many times before; that everything passed by too fast. As I always say, I would have loved them to start all over again. I was there. And I took everything with me as it was my long waited for night at the Metropolitan in New York.
Thank you, Angela. For everything.

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