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Review: WNO - La Traviata @ WMC

Posted by Weeping Tudor from Cardiff - Published on 17/02/2014 at 16:56
0 comments » - Tagged as Fashion, History, Music, Stage

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Welsh National Opera
Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff
Tuesday 11th February 2014

Verdi’s La Traviata is close to my heart, if not more in my mothers’.

WNO's previous staging of this was her first opera and this is coming up to be ten years ago.

I wonder if we will see that modern version again, which was in fact the first opera to be performed in the WMC. But this new take will certainly pleased traditional opera fans, with its late Victorian designs, black drapes and thrilling costumes.

I will admit that in that space of time, I have been able to develop my taste in opera, classical music and the other art forms. It’s wonderful to come back to this opera, even if I know I have moved on. Last year Verdi and Wagner both had their bicentenaries. Much talk over who was the better composer engaged the conversations of music lovers. For me it’s Wagner all the time. Those of you who know Wagner’s music will then know what my taste is like. But I’m always up to see a Verdi opera (still need to see Rigoletto, Nabucco, A Masked Ball, Simon Boccanegra and more).

It turns out this production is set later than the setting of the original opera. You can’t really tell this since the fashion and design of the Victorian era is similar and only the little difference could be notable. This is a lavish but somewhat lacklustre production. I once again couldn’t engross myself in the lead characters Violetta and Alfredo. The fallen women (which is roughly the Italian translation of thee operas name) here is similar to Manon Lescaut but here, Violetta gets much more compassion and sympathy from audiences. This is apparently the most performed opera and people still continue to weep, one-hundred-and-fifty years after this was first put on stage. It’s a sad story for sure, one I know well now. I do love a good cry at the opera and didn’t here.

Verdi’s music is the height of sophistication and beautifulness (his writing for woodwind is something I listen out for). If you have seen Pretty Women, then you have heard aspects of La Traviata (they go and see it in the film). I still feel Puccini is an easier sell for Italian opera for those who have never been. The pre-show talk for tonight was instead a first-timers talk for those who have never been to the opera. I think the normal talks work out just fine by Sophie Rashbrook, as they are very popular and very insightful.

Linda Richardson and Peter Sonn were better singers than their presence on stage. As a courtesan, Violetta who is only twenty-three, should be played with flirtation, a vulnerability and heaps of passion. Alfredo’s father Giorgio, sung by Alan Opie is very much the spanner in the works for the story, as he begs Violetta to leave his son for good, never to return. He is not to be liked until his remorseful bout of feelings, in the last act make him look credible in somewhat late fashion.

I suppose it’s an opera for those falling in love and to remember that our time here is short, so make the most of love and enjoy life.

Rating: 7/10

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