Metro, 16 January 2008
Warwick Thompson
Verdi: La traviata, Royal Opera House, 14 January 2008
Opera Review, La Traviata
When soprano Anna Netrebko (pictured) bounced on stage looking chirpy as a chipmunk for her curtain call, it was hard to believe that she’d just given one of the most harrowing performances imaginable. She had brought pathos, dignity and despair to the role of the courtesan who sacrifices everything for love, and her death scene had been terrifyingly intense — and yet here she was, seconds later, looking giggly and chipper.

I think it was then that I realised what it was that makes her such a great performer in this role: her utter lack of pretension on stage. That and her gloriously rich, supple voice with its blazing variety of colours, of course. Oh, and her luminous beauty doesn’t hurt, either.

But this is hardly a one-trick show. In fact, the Royal Opera has assembled the best cast I can remember for Richard Eyre’s grand, if occasionally
slow, period production (well revived by Patrick Young). With his dark good looks, dramatic power and shining voice, Jonas Kaufmann is wonderful as Violetta’s wrong-headed lover Alfredo, and an atypical moment of vocal raspiness on Monday didn’t mar the overall impression a jot. Baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky sounds as heavenly as ever as Alfredo’s father too. Fight (you’ll have to) for a ticket.

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