Review by Olivia Ruggiero
Elijah Moshinksky’s production of Verdi’s La Traviata is a riveting step in time. Complete with lavish period costume, decadently dressed sets and an intricate lighting design this Traviata will transport you and tantalise your senses.
Verdi’s score is the perfect opera, composed with skill and intricate leitmotif’s that leave your heart aching – the music is the perfect companion to this stunning story. Act 1 of course opens with the well known “Brindisi” and the Opera Australia chorus are able to flourish and shine. Their spellbinding sound, phenomenal harmony work and luscious blend never ceases to amaze or disappoint. They are decked out in the most gorgeous costumes, designed by Peter Hall – the colours and textures bounce off the stage – a treat for the eyes. This chorus is having a raucous time, acting and singing at the highest quality.
The real treat in Act 1 is the vocal fireworks displayed by Stacey Alleaume in her show stopping rendition of “E strano… Ah fors’e lui… Sempre libre”. The coloratura work is precise and her top notes bloom with power and warmth. In this moment she wins the audience completely and holds them captive throughout the second act. Act 3 is more of struggle. Alleaume’s rendition of “ Teneste la promessa” is beautiful and she carries the legato line well. However, when you have established yourself as such a brilliant actress it is an odd choice not to look into the eyes of Alfredo in their final reunion – but rather be actively watching the conductor. A flaw in an otherwise stellar performance.
Liparit Avetisyan’s voice is glorious. His Act 2 aria “Di profenza il Mar”deserved its own standing ovation. Every note is perfectly placed, the vowels pure, the tone even and the interpretation – riveting. He plays a stiff and awkward Alfredo in Act 1 that opens up into this free man when in love. His cold and heartless shaming of Violetta in Act 2 is the perfect balance of anger, bitterness, hurt and remorse.
The role of Giorgio Germont is fascinating in the hands of any actor or singer and Mario Cassi is not only up to the challenge but he smashes it out of the park. Cassi is the standout in this production. His voices pins you to your seat with its power – he is controlled and his stage presence is second to none. Bravo.
Danita Weatherstone is a loyal Annina and Agnes Sarkis a biting and flamboyant Flora. They play their parts well and match the vocal prowess of Cassi, Avetisyan and Alleaume.
The Opera Australia orchestra under the baton of Renato Palumbo are nothing short of note perfect. They ebb and flow with the emotional storytelling of the singers but hold a steady tempo in necessary moments. They are exceptional. Bravi tutti.
The direction, revived by Constantine Costi feels a little stunted, limited by the space and set design. It feels as though the actors are searching for something to do, and given no choice but to stand or sit in one place and sing their arias. Their interpretations are always sublime but their physicality feels restricted.
This production is what Traviata should be – vibrant, decadent and luscious. It is an evening well spent, and one for opera lovers or newcomers to the art form.
Image Credit: Keith Saunders and Jeff Busby