In recent months the WNO has served up wonderful innovative productions: Leonard Bernstein’s Candide, and Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar. As part of its Autumn season it now stages a very traditional Verdi’s La traviata (‘The Fallen Woman’).
This is a tried and tested David McVicar production, first staged by the WNO in 2009. I had seen it back then so attended on Thursday evening with vague memories and some lack of excitement. I am delighted to report then that it’s another wonderful production in spite of, or perhaps because of, its very traditional nature.
Verdi’s celebrated opera of 1853 about the courtesan Violetta who finds love with Alfredo but then has to sacrifice it is staged gloriously. Singing, music, set, costumes and lighting are all sumptuous and sensuous.
Revived by Sarah Crisp, WNO has assembled an extremely strong international cast, some young exciting rising stars new to the company and others who have already worked succesfully here in other roles as well as elsewhere.
Australian-Mauritian Soprano Stacey Alleaume as a ravishingly sung Violetta and Korean tenor David Junghoon Kim as a heartfelt Alfredo deliver crowd-pleasing powerhouse performances, and bring the romance and suffering alive. These are two thrilling younger singers who are carving out bright careers. David Junghoon Kim sang the Duke in Verdi’s Rigoletto with WNO in a recent production with Mark S. Doss in the leading role.
Stacey Alleaume as Violetta and David Junghoon Kim
A strong impression is also made by American Mark S. Doss as Alfredo’s father Giorgio, who in this portrayal provides gravity and pathos, and whose character, while eventually seeing his mistakes, also serves to highlight the theme of moral hypocrisy in this Parisian world. Impressing me too was Sian Meinir as Violetta’s maid Annina, making a big impact in what could be a small part; she imbues her role with depth, nuance and sensitivity. All are more than ably supported by the rest of the performers.
I particularly enjoyed the Sirenna Tocco choroegraphed dance section at Flora’s house party; the matador and bull (Ashton Hall and Ángel Gabriel Gutiérrez) especially made a delightful contribution, which leavened the unfolding tragedy.
Mark S Doss and Stacey Alleaume
The design of the production from Tanya McCallin is also remarkable. Costume and staging are very rich and evocative, and one feels that one is watching a 19th-century painting coming to life. The ruched curtains and dresses, the furniture and flowers, and the atmospheric lighting and translucent panelling, all create an appropriately heady effect. Lots of nice touches illuminate the supporting cast too, such as the appearance of a green carnation on a gentleman’s lapel.
In short, with elegant and vivacious conducting from Alexander Joel and sparkiling chorus singing, WNO has served up another hit in quick succession. Go and indulge in pleasure.
Check our Chiara Strazzulla’s review on our sister site operascene.co.uk
Mark S Doss on singing Georgio Germont:
Mark S Doss and David Junghoon Kim singing in Rigoletto with WNO review:
Welsh National Opera’s autumn season Ainadamar review: