Here is below an email which I send to a friend I had dinner with last Thursday in New York. He went to hear Bach B Minor Mass with the NYPO under Alan Gilbert and I went at the Met to the premiere of the revival of Traviata with Damrau, Pirgu, Domingo conducted by Y Nezet-Seguin:
· This is a revival of a known work coming after a visible Parsifal so a few things may not have been prepared as thoroughly. In this case, it was the chorus. The orchestra was crisp and detailed but the coordination with the chorus was just not there and particularly in act 1. Maybe, they did not have enough rehearsal time.
· This was a Traviata without a real Alfredo. Pirgu is a Fenton but no more or he had a rough night. He was underpowered by the other singers and was often flat (although tenors being tenors, he tends to be more applauded than they deserve.)
· Damrau was all through the work musical and secure. The coloratura at the end of Act 1 was wonderful, Gruberova-like, but until act 3, she was not dramatic enough. This is her first night and her first Traviata so she will grow. The staging asks her to do quite a lot in Act 1 and she may not be the best singer-actor there is (or memories of Netrebko are just too strong). Act 3 though was really different, and she was genuinely moving in the Addio aria. Once she is at ease in the entire work, she will be a Traviata to recon with.
· Domingo started with difficulty. I was asking myself whether this was not the one role too many, until Di Provenza il mar where the line, the (tenoral) intensity was superb. It is a privilege to hear him and I cherish every occasion.
· This was the first time I was hearing Nezet-Seguin and he impressed me. The music had a nice rhythm. String attacks were clean and coordinated (essential for Verdi) and above all, he has a sense of the line with clear gestures on where a phrase is going. I definitely hope to hear more of him in the future.
· The Decker staging was well revived. Audience seemed to like it. There were many young people around me … well, there are such things as date-movies so there is no reason not to have date-operas.