I saw Marina Poplavskaya in last season’s Traviata at the Metropolitan Opera and found her performance utterly perverse. To be sure, the Decker production was dreadful—if your idea of a “production,” that is, consists of two or three ideucce and having most everyone on stage carry on as if in the throes of Saint Vitus’s dance.
Polavskaya sometimes sang as if she had mistaken La traviata for Pierrot Lunaire, over-inflecting phrases and even individual syllables, crooning and sliding and even lapsing into the straight tones of a choirboy. Occasionally, though rarely, she sang simply, with real beauty and eloquence.
This Willow Song from Otello at the 2008 Salzburg finds her at her best. While I would quibble with her lugubrious Slavic vowel sounds and one or two fishy pianissimi, this is a fine and deeply felt performance of Verdi’s music, with Riccardo Muti conducting.
To all, a good weekend!