Angela Gheorghiu is the definitive Violetta of her generation, the standard-setter against whom all other exponents of this role must be judged for the foreseeable future. Her affinity for Verdi's fragile, gentle-hearted courtesan is rooted in a fine balance of acting and singing skills. She looks right, her body language is eloquent without overstatement, and her voice is limpid, expressive, open to a variety of subtle shadings and used gracefully and intelligently. For this, her first Traviata
, Covent Garden put together a production in 1994 that is solid and straightforward but otherwise unspectacular--a fairly subdued background against which her performance stands out all the more clearly. Though lacking the vocal splendor and personal magnetism of Placido Domingo, Frank Lopardo gives a sensitive performance as Alfredo, and Sir Georg Solti paces and accents this performance with a thoughtful subtlety that is relatively rare in his work. The result is deeply satisfying. --Joe McLellan
1994 production from the Royal Opera House, featuring Angela Gheorghiu's stunning debut as Violetta.