After the first night, I listened to Angela Gheorghiu/Frank Lopardo/Leo Nucci on the Decca recording. Anna Netrebko is a superstar in spite of occassionally sounding harsh (so did Callas). I wondered at her audacity, commitment and sparkle. The contrasting demands of "Ah forse lui che s'anima" and "Sempre libera" illustrate her capabilities. In the last act, she managed to strike the right blend of wistfulness, regret, bitterness and acceptance when singing "Gran Dio morir si giovanni.." Gheorghiu, who I admire greatly, sounds constipated in comparision.
I agree on the whole; I admired Gheorghiu's Violetta when I saw her in about 1996, and Solti was a much better partner for her than Benini is to Netrebko, but I found the latter's role assumption utterly compelling.
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