Home » Opera and Ballet » Review : La traviata at the Royal Opera House – 16th January 2016

Review : La traviata at the Royal Opera House – 16th January 2016

La Traviata-522 VENERA GIMADIEVA AS VIOLETTA VALÉRY © ROH. PHOTOGRAPH BY TRISTRAM KENTON

La Traviata- Venera Gimadieva as Violetta Valery© ROH. Photograph by Tristram Kenton

La traviata returns to the Royal Opera with a revival of the 1994 Richard Eyre’s production, with three world-class casts led by Venera Gimadieva, Maria Agresta and Nicole Cabell.

La traviata is one of Giuseppe Verdi’s most popular operas, based on La dame aux Camélias , a play adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas. The opera was first premiered in 1853 at the La Fenice opera house in Venice and opened to mixed reviews mainly due the discontent with certain members of the cast. When the opera opened in other major European cities in the 1850s, there were some controversy over the story of a Parisian courtesan.

Tonight’s performance had its own drama when acclaimed Albanian tenor Saimir Pirgu had to withdraw from singing the role of Alfredo Germont in the opening night’s performance of La traviata due to illness. The role was taken by Samuel Sakker, the Australian tenor  is part of the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme which he joined at  start of the 2014/15 Season and has untaken a number of roles including  one of the leading roles in The Lighthouse at the Royal Opera House.

La Traviata-290 VENERA GIMADIEVA AS VIOLETTA VALÉRY © ROH. PHOTOGRAPH BY TRISTRAM KENTON

La Traviata- Venera Gimadieva as Violetta Valery© ROH. Photograph by Tristram Kenton

The story takes place in 19th century Paris and centred around the character of Violetta Valéry (Venera Gimadieva), a courtesan who in the first act throws a lavish party to celebrate her recovery from an illness. At the party is the young Alfredo Germont (Samuel Sakker)who has long admired Violetta and after she suffers a relapse of her illness, he professes his love and concern about her health.

Eventually Violetta  gives up her extravagant lifestyle to live with Alfredo Germont  at her country house, but the path of true love seldom  runs true and the couple’s living arrangements causes a scandal amongst their ‘society’ friends which then leads to the arrival  of Alfredo’s father, Giorgio Germont ( Luca Salsi ).

In common with Tosca, La traviata places a great responsibility on the leading character, in this production, the  impressive Venera Gimadieva manages to convey the many complexities of Violetta’s character. From the wonderful rendition of “Sempre libera” in Act I, to the sparring with Salsi’s Germont and finally the subtle and moving death scene in the final act.

La Traviata-2471 VENERA GIMADIEVA AS VIOLETTA VALÉRY © ROH. PHOTOGRAPH BY TRISTRAM KENTON

La Traviata- Venera Gimadieva as Violetta Valery © ROH. Photograph by Tristram Kenton

With Gimadieva in top form,  Sakker (Alfredo) looked understandably nervous in the early exchanges but to his great credit grew into the part to give a fine performance. The audience reaction to the moment that Salsi’s Giorgio Germont slaps Alfredo rather hard across the face indicated where their sympathies lay.

La Traviata-796 LUCA SALSI AS GIORGIO GERMONT, VENERA GIMADIEVA AS VIOLETTA VALÉRY © ROH. PHOTOGRAPH BY TRISTRAM KENTON

La Traviata- Luci Salsi as Giorgio Germont, Venera Gimadieva as Violetta Valery © ROH. Photograph by Tristram Kenton

Regardless of who plays Alfredo, it is the interaction between  Violetta and Giorgio Germont that exposes many of the hypocrisies of period. Salsi ‘s Giorgio moves from affronted and dominating father to  someone who begins to regret his action with total conviction.  Gimadieva’s Violetta shows her strength and weakness, at first standing up to Giorgio Germont before succumbing to his emotional blackmail.

La Traviata-1535 ANDREA HILL AS FLORA BERVOIX © ROH. PHOTOGRAPH BY TRISTRAM KENTON

La Traviata- Andrea Hill as Flora Bervoix © ROH.Photograph by Tristram Kenton

In a strong cast , Flora Bervoix, (Andrea Hill) , Annina ( Sarah Pring) and Baron Douphol ( Yuriy Yurchuk) all provided strong support in a well paced production directed by Daniel Dooner.  All the action takes place in opulent and lavish sets designed by Bob Crowley which illustrate the wealth and decadence of 19th century aristocratic Parisian life. The wonderful sets were complimented by the atmospheric lighting by Jean Kalman and the accomplished orchestra led by a demonstrative Yves Abel who accurately highlights the drama and melodies of Verdi’s music.

La traviata remains a firm favourite in the Royal Opera repertoire and provides wonderful entertainment which can be enjoyed on many levels whether you are new to opera or a regular operagoer. This performance was received enthusiastically by the audience and with  strong casts for the rest of the run, this is an opportunity to experience high quality opera in a marvellous setting.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information or to book tickets, visit the Royal Opera House website here

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