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Verdi, La Traviata: Soloists, Orchestra e Coro del Maggio Musicale Florentino.Conductor. Daniele Callegari.Teatro Comunale de Firenze. 8.10.2009 (JMI)

New Production.

Director: Franco Ripa di Meana.
Sets: Eduardo Sanchi.
Costumes: Silvia Aymonino.
Lighting: Guido Levi.


Violeta: Andrea Rost.
Alfredo: Saimir Pirgu.
Germont: Luca Salsi.
Flora: Milena Josipovic.
Annina: Sabrina Modena.
Gastote: Aldo Orsolini.
Douphol: Francesco Verna.
Obigny: Gabriele Ribis.
Grenvil: Michele Bianchini.
Giuseppe: Leonardo Melani.

Last year Florence launched a new project, performing three different operas during the month of October on three successive days, with new productions in the charge of one single director for the three works and a with special attention to younger members of the public. This project was baptized last year as “Recondita Armonia” and it keeps the same name this year. Last year was successful and staged Cavallería Rusticana, La Boheme and Tosca, three operas more or less representative of the Italian verismo. This year the choice fell to Verdi and his so-called ‘popular’ trilogy, directed by Franco Ripa di Meana.

This new production is not conceptual in approach, but simply intends to narrate a story, almost an original idea in itself nowadays, especially as it does not transfer the action to a different epoch. So you can imagine a stage with large rooms, red velvet curtains and the like, which is very reminiscent of any past Traviata : if anyone is looking for a traditional Traviata, then this is it. However, the stage direction is often quite poor, especially in the party scenes, and there is hardly anything to mention that has not been seen time and again.

The musical direction was in the hands of Daniele Callegari, whose greatest merits lie in taking very good of care of the singers and in choosing a very complete musical version of the opera, with not only the cabalettas for both Germonts, but also the repeat; for example “Gran Dio, morir si giovine”, which is my first experience of hearing a repeat of this piece. From there on however, Callegari had no special musical interest even though the orchestra provided a very good sound and the chorus was excellent.

The protagonist Violeta was the Hungarian soprano Andrea Rost, who in the ‘90s was one of the favourites at La Scala under Riccardo Muti. Today, at 47, she is no more than a light soprano and this is not enough for Violeta: her performance in Florence was what you might expect, a good first act and insufficient vocal power for the rest of the work.

The young Albanian tenor Saimir Pirgu produced beautiful timbre, and his was a well sung Alfredo in general. He has youth (28), an attractive voice and good figure on his side but there is something in his interpretation that does not spark much enthusiasm from the audience.

Another young singer (34), the Italian baritone Luca Salsi, gave a very good interpretation of Giorgio Germont. He has an appealing voice and he is a good singer, but was a little short of volume in the concertante that ends the party at Flora’s house. Supporting roles were, in general, well cast and I would like to mention Leonardo Melani as Giuseppe. I have suffered much hearing this character, usually played by members of the chorus, that I truly enjoyed hearing a good singer in the role.

There was a full house and a warm reception for the artists. In the applause league, the winner was Luca Salsi with Pirgu coming second. Andrea Rost and Callegari did not receive much more than courtesy. The creative team curiously received a mixed reception with both applause and some booing.

José M Irurzun

Picture courtesy of Teatro Comunale de Firenze

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