La Traviata: a poignant yet lively opera offering simplicity and depth
La Traviata is a classic tale of thwarted love, scandal and self-sacrifice and the simplicity of its plot, for me a relative newcomer to opera, makes it even more of a pleasure to watch.
Based on Alexandre Dumas fils’s novel, La Dame aux Camélias, Sir David McVicar’s acclaimed production of Verdi’s much-loved opera La Traviata returns to Welsh National Opera (WNO) with Sarah Crisp directing.
Conducted by Alexander Joel, the production features Australian-Mauritian soprano Stacey Alleaume making her Welsh National Opera (WNO) debut as the elegant courtesan Violetta Valéry. Stacey stole the show – her performance was effortless, lithe and elegant – her voice incredible.
In a nutshell, the story is ‘rich socialite falls for aristocratic poet who finds himself penniless’. Violetta faces the choice of giving up her glamorous lifestyle for true love with the penniless aristocratic poet Alfredo Germont. The latter is played by Korean tenor David Junghoon Kim. Also joining the cast is American bass-baritone Mark S Doss, returning to WNO to sing the role of Giorgio Germont, Alfredo’s father.
The opening act depicts an epicurean lifestyle – partying til the early hours, an abundance of food and alcohol, a seemingly no-care-in-the-world attitude other than enjoying oneself is encapsulated in Violetta’s words, ‘Pleasure makes your life longer’. A sense of gaiety and flirtatious atmosphere pervades the opening act.
Act two sees the glamourous lifestyle change – staged in a boudoir in a country residence with the two lovers inseparable. Enter Alfredo’s father who creates chaos demanding that Violetta (because of a dubious past) denounce Alfredo so that his son could return to the family home for the sake of his betrothed sister.
Moments of humour were injected throughout, and the gypsy fortune tellers gave the performance an entertaining and uplifting mood at the party in Paris.
While the lavish and opulent props and beautiful costumes resplendent of 19th century Paris depict a time of wealth and gaiety, the overall simplicity of the staging keeps your focus on the performers, particularly the captivating socialite Violetta.
The orchestra treats us to some familiar numbers, such as Brindisi (the drinking song) and the beautifully poignant finale, Addio del passato – accentuating the storyline and singing. And in the final moments of the opera, the lead singers and orchestra come together for a tragic yet dramatic finale.
The final scenes in the third act show Stacey performing with exquisite frailty and vulnerability – her flawless performance and vocal range throughout were sensational, bringing the character to life with credibility and beauty. Her incredible ‘last moments’ were deeply moving.
A beautiful performance! Thoroughly recommended!
La Traviata is showing at the Bristol Hippodrome on Saturday 21 October 2023.
Play Opera LIVE visits Bristol 21 October
WNO’s much-loved concert series for families, Play Opera LIVE, continues with a space-themed show presented by Tom Redmond. The concert will provide a fresh take on opera and classical music, including orchestral playing, song and performance. Free foyer activities will be available before each performance. This will be the first time for Play Opera LIVE to visit Bristol on 21 October.
About the Welsh National Opera
Welsh National Opera is the national opera company for Wales, funded by the Arts Councils of Wales and England to provide large-scale opera, concerts and outreach work across Wales and to major cities in the English regions. It endeavours to provide transformative experiences through its education and outreach programme and its award-winning digital projects. With its partners, it works to discover and nurture young operatic talent and aims to show future generations that opera is a rewarding, relevant and universal art form with the power to affect and inspire.