Verdi: La Traviata
Directed by August Everding. BR rec. at Bayerische Staatsoper, Nationaltheater, Munich, 1965-03-28.
- Cast: Fritz Wunderlich (Alfredo Germont), Teresa Stratas (Violetta Valéry), Hermann Prey (Giorgio Germont), Brigitte Fassbaender (Annina), Marie Luise Gilles (Flora Bervoix), Friedrich Lenz (Gastone), Josef Knapp (Douphol), Hans Bruno Ernst (Marchese d'Obigny), Günther Missenhardt (Dottore Grenvil), Heinrich Weber (Giuseppe), Ernst Buder (Servo di Flora), Chor der Bayerischen Staatsoper (Chorus Master: Gregor Eichhorn), Bayerisches Staatsorchester, cond. Giuseppe Patané
- K. H. Ruppel in "Süddeutsche Zeitung", Munich, 1965-03-30: "Were there nothing else to say about the State Opera's new Traviata than taht it is a triumph of bel canto, a gala review of superior voices, that would already be labelled an event which, even on a great and famous stage, is among the 'Sunday bests' of operatic activities and of the occassions, no longer so frequent today, where the ensemble (and ideal cast offering itself) and its disposition (the art of bringing together on the stage the singers forming it) come together most succesfully. The ovations for the three protagonists Teresa Stratas, Fritz Wunderlich and Hermann Prey, and for the conductor Giuseppe Patané, the director August Everding and the stage designer Jörg Zimmermann, roared through the National Theatre for a good quarter of an hour in Southern intensity, and Teresa Stratas covered here eyes with her hands to stem the tears of happiness that flowed from them: did she suspect that with her Violetta she had presented the operatic stage with a character which came every close to that which the unforgettable Eleonora Duse had once created as Marguerite Gauthier in Dumas's Dame aux xamélias? [...]
August Everding is responsible for the drama. He lets the 'fest pompose' style of the Parisian demi-monde be stressed both impressively and amusingly by the stage designer Jörg Zimmermann - the halls in the pleasure-houses of Vioetta and her friend Flora so overflow with statues, mirrors, marble fireplaces with luxurious flower arrangements, crystals lustres and silken furniture. In this Everding shows a society rendered uniform, anonymous and, so to speak, faceless by its milieu - bon-vivans and their female companions who, shallow, blasé, well-dressed, ultimately sociologically (within their sphere) formed, in completely routine fashion 'do', in one night, half a dozen parties.
As Everding deliberately and dramatically establishes the society scenes within the framework of the conventions, [...] the intimate drama of the three principals thus gains a precision and presence of the persons not often seen in this opera. They are the result of a production which very thoroughly explores the musical characters and has exactly adjusted their conception to Verdi's intentions. [...] Everding has admittedly had the good fortune to be able to work with three protagonists who can not only fully grasp the central musico-dramatic unity of their roles but also express and portray it. With them, bel canto and characterisation do not remain separated, but blend with one another; the contours of the figures do not disintegrate the more beautifully they sing but emerge all the more clearly. The feast of singing that they offer ranks not only as a pleasure to the ear but also, enitrely in Verdi's sense, as the realisation of what is himan. How rightly, for example, does Fritz Wunderlich voice his toast in Act 1 not with reckless tenor verve but more with restraint, almost rather inhibitedly; yet Alfredo Germont is so fascinated by Violetta that nothing less comes over him at this moment than a show off as a conventionally brilliant salon lion. Not until violetta replies to him with the second stanza does he become caught up in that great lyric fire which then blazes within him to the end. It is a model how this fire does not prevent Fritz Wunderlich from using vocal discipline, how he abstains from all star tenor's bad habits, bulges, pressures, ove-extended pauses and the like, how he respects Verdi's instructions on dynamic, how meaningfully he phrases, how (in the duets) he exercises partnership. I would not be able to name any Italian tenor who could surpass him in this part. Equally to be praised is Hermann Prey's respectful and superb vocal shaping of the figure of old Germont, who represses the unsympathtetic traits of the sanctimonious provincial intent only on the family reputation and presents a thoroughly capapble country squire filled with genuine paternal care and with an insight (going as far as respect) into the magnitude of Violetta's sacrifice. Let Hermann Prey be specially thanked that in the sumptous possession of his magnificent organ he sang the D flat aria 'Di Provenza il mar', which comes so dangerously close to sentimentality, not plaintively but more as a vision of the peace of his homeland.
Violetta Valéry: Teres Stratas. Overcoming a small vocal nervousness in Act 1, she created purely from the music, so to speak, the figure of an unforgettable being. From the melodic inspiration which came over her in this part - she was singing it for the first time - she intuitively found everything that makes this being alive and touching, the charm between hectic fever and frailty, the erotic air of the young girl marked for death (Violetta, though a princess of the demi-mone, is no 'grande dame' of this milieu!), the fervour and despair of her heart, the veracity of the change from someone playing with love to one confessing it. Her light, well-balanced soprano - her mezza-voce is enchanting - responds to every emotion: from the most tenderly lyrical to the big dramatic outburst, from the trilling parlando to the most sorrowful espressivo everything beuaitful sound. If one can speak of a fulfilment of everything Verdi visualised for his Traviata, Teresa Stratas produced it. A great young artist created a character which will remain associated with her name for a long time. The smaller roles were excellently taken by Marie Luise Gilles, Brigitte Fassbaender and Messrs Friedrich Lenz, Josef Knapp, Hans Bruno Ernst and Günther Missenhardt. The chorus, precise and flexible, was prepared by Gregor Eichhorn.
The performance was sung in Italian, and an Italian maestro was at the conductor's desk: Giuseppe Patané. [...] His tempi, which can only be called ideal, his esemplary discretion in the orchestral accompaniment, his exact differentation between mere instrumental support and articulation, his melodic declamation, both suplle and expressive, but above all his equally firm and light direction of the singers, with whom he 'breathes' - all this makes Giuseppe Patané a model representative of the best tradition of Italian conducros, who after the interval, when he again appeared at the desk, rightly received a thunderous salvo of applause." [translated by Lionel Salter; from the Orfeo CD booklet]
- Richard Wigmore in "Gramophone", 02/1999: "... Even more valuable is a live Munich Traviata - sung, exceptionally, in Italian - under Patané (Orfeo), with the young Teresa Stratas as Violetta: Wunderlich's Alfredo, tender, romantic, impetuous and gloriously phrased, has been likened to Gigli's, a comparison that, for once, does not seem wide of the mark."
- Alan Blyth in "Gramophone", 08/1999: "...Another performance of this era, a live one recorded at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich (Orfeo) in 1965, documents the first Italian-language performance in the house, vigorously and subtly conducted by Giuseppe Patané. Teresa Stratas was the dramatically interesting, vocally fallible Violetta, Hermann Prey the hopelessly unidiomatic and oversinging Germont. But the issue does repay study as a record for posterity of Fritz Wunderlich's peerlessly sung Alfredo, with its really youthful, unfettered tone, plangent expression, and faultless phrasing, every bar re-considered and therefore free from bad tradition. Watch out also for the young Brigitte Fassbaender as Annina, a classic example of a singer making much of little."
- Claudius Adam, 2001-02-11: "This production of La Traviata was Wunderlich's entrée into the Italian Fach. However,
he was so nervous during the premiere that he was not content with it himself. Only at the performance of April 7, 1965, he was satisfied with his efforts. A recording of the latter has been preserved in the archives of the Bavarian State Opera. Hopefully, it will be released on the Orfeo label in the future." [comment submitted to this web site, translated by AP]
|If you know this recording, feel free to add your own comment!|
|Orfeo d'Or C344932I (2 CD)
|Giuseppe di Stefano Records GDS 2106 (2 CD)
|Historical Recording Enterprise HRE 334-2 (2 LP, wrong cast lists and recording date)
Fritz Wunderlich Discography