A legendary Violetta meets her successor

A legendary Violetta meets her successor


norman lebrecht

July 10, 2015

I well remember the night Aprile Millo sang her first Turandot at the Met and Birgit Nilsson, who owned the role, sailed serenely down the aisle by way of benediction.

Last night at the Liceu in Barcelona something similar happened.

cotrubas with violettas

The fabulous Ileana Cotrubaş came backstage to meet two Violettas in La Traviata, Anita Hartig and Elena Mosuc. Hartig was making her debut in the role. She won’t forget the moment as long as she lives.

hartig violetta
Hartig with Leo Nucci in David McVicar’s production



  • El Grillo says:

    My voice teacher sang The Magic Flute with Eleana. He told me that when she sang “Ach ich Fuhl’s” it was really difficult to stand there as Tamino and hold this face he was meant to hold as Tamino, because of the incredibly beautiful sound that was pouring forth.

    Ach ach….

  • El Grillo says:

    Sorry, I meant Ileana (not Eleana).


    (you can hear the amazing sound)

  • La Donna del Largo says:

    Aprile Millo never sang the role of Turandot at the Met and in fact has never sung this part anywhere. (She has performed a version of the third act of the opera in concert.)

    Ms. Millo sang the role of Liu opposite the Turandot of Eva Marton on April 9, 1987, a performance attended by Mme. Nilsson and (among others) Elizabeth Taylor.

    • V.Lind says:

      So if you read somewhere that Pavarotti sang his first La Boheme in 1961 you would write in that he had never sung Mimi?

      There are nits worth picking and there are nit-nots.

      • OhGlorioso says:

        Maybe your comprehension abilities need some attention: Clearly, Norman was saying that Millo sang the role of Turandot which Nilsson also sang. Which, of course, Millo did not sing.

  • La Donna del Largo says:

    “La Boheme” is not the name of a character in that opera, and thus there is no danger of ambiguity. The author seems to indicate that he means the role and not simply the opera when he adds “Birgit Nilsson, who owned the role.”

    Though perhaps it is quixotic for anyone to come to this blog with the intention of reading factual information of any sort.

    • El Grillo says:

      Thanks for pointing that out. There’s no way anyone would have known, given face value, that Aprile didn’t sing the role of Turandot. With the whole celebrity pampering and draw, there were and undoubtedly are enough singers singing roles they shouldn’t, and this helps to assimilate an idea of someone’s voice.

      I could name a few, but I won’t….

      • La Donna del Largo says:

        One might also suggest that Nilsson’s presence at that “Turandot” performance had little to to with Millo’s participation, fine though it was. The legendary Swedish soprano was both a personal friend and a mentor to Eva Marton, who sang Turandot in this “Turandot.”

    • V.Lind says:

      Well, subsitute Lucia di Lammermoor, then, or La Fille du Régiment, if it’s easier for you. In fact La Bohème does refer to the character of a Bohemian girl, presumably Mimi. The opera is based on Scènes de la Vie de Bohème, which means what you are suggesting (and, in fairness, what is generally understood by the title).

      Liu is the role that counts in Turandot. I would imagine it is the first thing most people would bring to mind when they think of a soprano in it, whether they are familiar with the principals in question or their repertoires.

  • La Donna del Largo says:

    No, “La Bohème” does not mean “the Bohemian girl.”

  • Joanna Debenham says:

    How wonderful!

    Ms Cotrubas was a wonderful soprano at the height of her career.

    This sort of endorsement makes one feel better about the world.