“La Traviata” was composed by Verdi and first performed in 1853, and to this day remains a well known and loved production. As expected, it adheres to ‘the rules’ of classic opera – love, lust, heaving bosoms and tragedy that can only these days be rivalled by prime time soaps. Alyona Kistenyova plays an exquisite leading lady, consumed by her courtesan lifestyle and need for constant fleeting pleasures of the flesh (and large quantities of wine!)
In my younger years I tended to avoid opera as I didn’t understand it’s appeal, but “La Traviata” is a perfect example of why the genre really isn’t just for the ‘oldies’ – if you’ll pardon the expression. Illicit affairs, love triangles, partying all night and moral dilemmas are main themes throughout the performance, and other than the glitzy attire (and the singing in Italian..) the couples wouldn’t seem particularly out of place on The Jeremy Kyle Show!
I was a little confused during Act one as to where in the story we had begun, due to the subtitles giving an overview of the entire plot – had Violetta met Alfredo before? Google now tells me she had. I would liked to have seen more movement during each of the 3 acts as there were several static periods of standing still and singing, but the party scene with the gypsy fortune tellers and matador brought some much needed comic relief. The interactions were a little wooden in places, with a rather hammy slap being dealt to Alfredo by Giorgio, who ironically was the star of the show for me. His acting was consistently solid, his reactions engaging and his presence calming. The orchestra was breath-taking – I felt goose bumps rising on my arms as the strings carried Violetta’s sorrow out into the night. I also felt a particular infinity with the lyrics of “Brindisi” – the most famous drinking song in the operatic world.
A little motionless in places, and not very believable chemistry between the leading actors, but the songs were captivating and the combination of dramatic tension and humour worked extremely well. Overall an enjoyable, relaxed evening of easy watch traditional entertainment. If you’ve never been to the opera, this is a great first show to see.