Verdi: La Traviata - Freni, Cioni, Sereni, Zaccaria; Karajan. Milano, 1964
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Mirella Freni’s Violetta suffered at La Scala from unfair comparisons to Maria Callas which may have discouraged her from attempting the part in other theaters. It is a shame because even though hers may not have been a conventional Violetta, her take on the character is quite valid. Her Violetta is not as hardened and cynical as one has come to expect in this role. For example, even while she rebuffs Alfredo’s advances in Act I, she cannot help but betray an optimism that seems intriguingly incongruous coming from a courtesan. And if ”Sempre libera” isn’t as show stopping as it could be, she makes up for it with a deeply felt reading of ”Addio del passato”. Renato Cioni’s Alfredo is somewhat of a non-entity and Mario Sereni lends his attractive baritone to Germont. The sound is very good.