• La Traviata: Around the Opera (I)

    Cuts are just part of Opera.

    Of course, they are also part of La Traviata's historical record of performances.

    During the 19th century, those cust became fossilized and they were included in almost all of the 20th century productions.

    The main cuts are:

    The second half of "Ah, fors'è lui".

    With those verses:

    A me fanciulla, un candido
    E trepido desire
    Questi effigiò dolcissimo
    Signor dell'avvenire,
    Quando nè cieli il raggio
    Di sua beltà vedea,
    E tutta me pascea
    Di quel divino error.
    Sentia che amore è palpito
    Dell'universo intero,
    Misterioso, altero,
    Croce e delizia al cor!


    The reasoning behind this cut, if that there's nothing new to be heard in the second stanza and the dramatic progression of the scene is damaged by having Violetta repeat her sentiments. Also, it puts additional strain in the soprano, that is facing a very difficult scene.

    We hear the complete version, sung by Natalie Dessay:



    Also, the second stanza of Addio del Passato

    Le gioie, i dolori tra poco avran fine,
    La tomba ai mortali di tutto è confine!
    Non lagrima o fiore avrà la mia fossa,
    Non croce col nome
    che copra quest'ossa!
    Ah, della traviata sorridi al desio;
    A lei, deh, perdona; tu accoglila, o Dio.
    Or tutto finì!


    is usually cut, on the same grounds.

    Those arguments are not very compelling. Verdi gives ample opportunity with the markings in the score to color the second stanza, that a gifted singer can exploit. There is also another counterargument, based on the "frenchness" of the romanza form in the Italian opera of the times, a kind of underscoring La Traviata is, after all, a French story... Perhaps, but the score and the markings are enough. The only good reason for cutting this is the real possibility of some singers not being able to stand to the additional effort.

    We can hear the complete aria with Edita Gruberova:



    Alfredo's cabaletta "O mio rimorso".

    After praising the happiness of his life with Violetta, Alfredo is informed by Annina that Violetta is paying the bill. Alfredo... just run to Paris.

    Or wait a minute. Perhaps he does something before going to Paris?. Yes, he is supposed to sing this cabaletta:


    O mio rimorso! O infamia
    E vissi in tale errore?
    Ma il turpe sogno a frangere
    Il ver mi balenò.
    Per poco in seno acquetati,
    O grido dell'onore;
    M'avrai securo vindice;
    Quest'onta laverò.


    Well, this is not the most inspired piece in La Traviata, but in my view it doesn't make sense to cut this cabaletta. This just contributes to portrait Alfredo as a young man with a ten years old brain, and rob us of at least one moment of grief and remorse, something resembling adulthood.

    This is Alfredo Kraus, singing Alfredo Germont:




    Germont's cabaletta "No, non udrai rimproveri".

    No, non udrai rimproveri;
    Copriam d'oblio il passato;
    L'amor che m'ha guidato,
    Sa tutto perdonar.
    Vieni, i tuoi cari in giubilo
    Con me rivedi ancora:
    A chi penò finora
    Tal gioia non negar.
    Un padre ed una suora
    T'affretta a consolar.


    This is even worse to cut. Just imagine Germont père sung the glorious "Di Provenza" and the reaction of Alfredo is... yes, go to Paris. Come on. At least, with this cabaletta there is some interaction between Alfredo and his father, that makes the action much more fluent. Again, in purely musical terms, we are not losing a lot.

    Let's hear the scene in the voices of Thomas Hampson and Rolando Villazón.



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