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La Traviata

Teresa Stratas , Plácido Domingo , Franco Zeffirelli    G (General Audience)   VHS Tape
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Brings My Friends to Tears Every Time June 13 2002
Yes, I've shown this film to some very different women, with the same reaction every time--they become quite wrapped up in the tragic love story of Violetta and Alfreddo, to the point of tears!
I first saw this movie when it was relatively new, and when I had never even seen a live opera yet. It was as extraordinary for me then as my friends continue to find it. From the moment I saw Placido Domingo in Violetta's hallway, I was hooked on him. But then, I have always been partial to extremely masculine foreign men like Rossano Brazzi.
It's wonderfully filmed, with lush settings and beautiful costuming, especially for Teresa Stratas, our Violetta, the jaded courtesan dying of consumption but eager to grasp at a last chance for love and happiness. With her dark hair and eyes, she bewitches Alfreddo, who impetuously offers her all he has, his love. For a time, it seems that happiness and health is theirs in the country retreat they find, far from the excesses of Paris, but Alfreddo's father arrives and makes a request of Violetta put in terms that she cannot refuse. A misunderstanding between the lovers arises, and tragedy for all is the result. But the audience finds itself caring very much about these characters and wishing that things would turn out very differently.
One scene which I particularly like is when Violetta, Alfreddo, and her lover the baron attend a sumptuous party at Flora's. Here we have dancing gypsy girls and extremely acrobatic matadors tearing up the scene and getting the blood boiling, before things really begin to heat up with the romantic triangle.
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3.0 out of 5 stars It's not really all that bad. Jan. 27 2002
There are two ways of looking at this film: as an opera, or as a movie. As an opera, it isn't that great. This is mainly because of Teresa Stratas screeching and moaning and I'm sure she belches once or twice too. What do you expect from a character whose most dramatic aria occurs in a drunken stupor (he intones with implied sarcasm)? Domingo is good, as is Cornell MacNeill as Germont-Pere. The two men are brilliant singers and not bad at acting either. However, Stratas overacts. A lot. Eh, sopranos.
However, the movie itself is well done. Zeffirelli has an eye for beauty and eye-pleasing scenery. The visual part of the film leaves you with the warm fuzzies, and the actual direction of Domingo really makes you like the character. However, I felt nothing at the death of Violetta. Except maybe a little bit of relief, but let's not let that get around.
All in all, it's a good attempt at cinematizing Verdi's masterpiece, and I agree with some of the other reviewers that it is probably a better buy for opera newcomers.
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By Lawrance M. Bernabo HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Franco Zeffirelli has repeatedly proved his affinity for opera on the stage of the Metropolitan. The tableau at the end of the opening scene of "Tosca" and the split level second act of "La Boheme" with the street scene above and the restaurant below come to mind. In this 1982 film he takes Verdi's tragic opera and trims it down to a brisk 105 minutes that retains all of the emotional highlights. Zeffirelli proves his mastery before the first note of music is even played. The overture to Verdi's opera is quite atypical. At the time operas began with a loud rush of music, but in "La Traviata" Verdi saves that for the first act. Verdi's overture begins with the strings playing as softly as possible, seducing the restless audience into quiet and communicating quite clearly that what they are about to see is a tragedy. The first part of the overture is Violetta's death motif, which reappears again before the final scene. The second half repeats a theme several times with the hope that the audience will remember it when it shows up as one of the shortest arias in opera when Violetta leaves Alfredo. Zeffirelli does two things to enhance this overture. First, he does all of the opening credits, done over shots of the Paris locale, before the music starts. Second, Zeffirelli sets the scene of the overture right BEFORE the final scene. Violetta's apartment is dark and shadowy figures move about, removing items. A young man is removing a lamp and just as the second part of the overture begins he looks up--and there is a portrait of Violetta. Entranced by her beauty he sees the doctor leaving and heads down the hallway and tentatively opens the door to Violetta bedroom. But what he sees is a woman dying from consumption. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Opera Cinema At Its Very Best Nov. 11 2001
This film is the standard by which all opera films must be measured.
Zefirelli gets right to work and makes good use of the mournful overture by showing the creditors of the dying Violetta ransacking her formerly grand Paris apartment. We realize with horror at the end of the overture that she is still there, coughing away, in the apartment, while the creditors cart away the beautiful accoutrements of her former life.
The remainder of the opera is portrayed as a sensational flashback as the blues of the scenes shown during the overture give rise to the warm candlelight tones of the party, brilliantly costumed, acted, and sung. The "Brindisi" scene is absolute perfection: meltingly sung by both Placido Domingo and Teresa Stratas, romantic and well-matched leads, stunningly costumed, with a lavish spread on the table that would make Martha Stewart look like a piker.
The middle scenes with Cornell McNeil drag somewhat, perhaps because the country idyll of Violetta is inherently unbelievable, and the lyric soprano singing isn't quite as interesting as the coloratura singing in the first act, and the dramatic singing in the third act.
No matter. The large choral scenes which follow are satisfyingly dramatic, with no less a personage than Natalia Makarova in a dancing role, and Alfredo's denunciation of Violetta is both melodic and superbly villainous.
As the opera ends, we discover, in a cruel Zeffirellian twist, that Violetta's deathbed reunion with Alfredo has been a dying hallucination, as the set fades to the same blues of the overture. Get out your handkerchiefs.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Chillingly beautiful
This is a haunting video/DVD. Blah blah about seeing it only in the opera house (open yourself to a new experience it's a stylized *film*)I have studied opera from Met performers... Read more
Published on Sept. 3 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars BEAUTIFUL FILM WITH SOMEWHAT AVERAGE VOICES...
The direction and the sets of this film are perfection. Verdi's score is tried, true and beautiful, a great place to start if you've never been exposed to opera. Read more
Published on Feb. 5 2002 by pietrogiovanni
5.0 out of 5 stars Total enchantment and marvellous performance
This video which is a movie, sung and performed by wellknown opera singers taken at luxurious homes and country side scenery as background is really a marvellous combination of the... Read more
Published on Oct. 29 2001 by Mrs. Sunar Tjahjono
5.0 out of 5 stars Zeffereli+ Verdi Plus Film Equals Greatness
You don't have to be an opera fan to enjoy this film. Noted Italian director Franco Zeffreli (Romeo and Juliet 1968) and Hamlet with Mel Gibson, Glen Close(1991) makes Verdi's... Read more
Published on Aug. 1 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Traviata
As a film, not a stage production, this is the best available, if not without flaws. The Covent Garden live stage performance with Solti is terrific as well. Read more
Published on July 20 2001 by operamaryc
2.0 out of 5 stars watch the actual opera
I rented this movie because I fell in love with the aria "sempre libera" and just had to see it performed. Read more
Published on Nov. 13 2000 by Shadow Moon
5.0 out of 5 stars Greatest music video known to man
This video is the greatest music video known to man. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating but if you want to like opera, just watch this video. Read more
Published on Nov. 12 2000
2.0 out of 5 stars in response to enh 77
As one of the viewers who dislikes this film, I would like to respond to the comments of enh 77 below. Read more
Published on Oct. 9 2000 by R. W. Holliston
5.0 out of 5 stars THE Traviata experience
If you watch this film just to hear "Sempre libera", your disappointment is guaranteed because what you should do is buy a Sutherland recording, but this is not the... Read more
Published on Aug. 9 2000 by Niya
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