Say you're the critic for the nation's leading daily newspaper, and say you really don't like an overhyped singer and you have to review the opera she's appearing in.
What do you do?
Most people would simply pan the unfortunate singer and get it over with.
That, of course, would be the easy way out.
And, in a way, panning -- or better yet, savaging -- a singer who usually gets a lot of hype can become a twisted form of PR, adding to the opera house's hype (no such thing as bad publicity, etc).
What Corriere della Sera did to Opera di Roma's Traviata is instead an example of almost Zen-like serenity: the critic simply explained that, since the main cast is made for "uneducated palates", he has reviewed the alternate cast's show (same conductor, obviously, but Angela Gheorghiu and Renato Bruson replaced by Myrto Papatanasiu and Dario Solari).
"With his (ed: conductor Gianluigi Gelmetti) vision, and with the cast I have chosen to listen to, a different one from the cast that appeared at la prima last Friday, made for uneducated palates, Rome's Traviata is important.
Gelmetti has instincts, and chooses rational, exact tempi, exact in strictly musical sense and in their relation to tradition; he has a tendency to adopt a fast pacing but also the rare ability to give room to the voices...
I have chosen a cast that I appreciate, made of young artists instructed by the conductor, of excellent quality. The baritone, Dario Solari, appears even to be excellent ... The tenor Vittorio Grigolo has delicious diction and timbro: he needs to work on his tessitura acuta; the soprano Myrto Papatanasiu has a pleasantly tart timbro, a wide flow, beautiful colorature and balance in the use of vibrato.
So give it up for Myrto!
And what about Angela? Ask this guy!
There are of course some more pictures from the Zeffirelli production (slammed by Corriere della Sera): you can find them below.