Neil Fisher says: La Traviata!
The Times asked its top critics to choose an event that impressed them most in their entire career. Neil Fisher's choice is La Traviata, the Royal Opera House production from 1994 starring Angela Gheorghiu. Yes, that famous La Traviata. Mr Fisher's comments can be bitter sometimes, but if recalls Angela's voice and presence as his best moments in his years and years of going to the opera, then... chapeau!
No one knew of Angela Gheorghiu when the young Romanian soprano was given the title role in the the Royal Opera's new Verdi production — least of all Gheorghiu herself. She would later baptise herself Covent Garden's resident diva, with all the unnecessary accoutrements that the position required. For now, however, she was just Verdi's tragic courtesan, innocent and desperate, and singing the role of Violetta (conducted by Georg Solti) with melting sincerity and ardour. The BBC took the extraordinary step of clearing their schedules and broadcasting the complete performance on television — imagine! — and a million people tuned in. Nothing compared to the experience inside the theatre, where the audience was stamping its feet for the soprano to come out again and again for another ovation. Hopefully the BBC cameras didn't catch me, standing at the back of the stalls circle, bawling like a baby. [Neil Fisher for The Times]