Originally to be called Amore e morte - Love and Death - La traviata (The Fallen Woman) was first performed at Teatro La Fenice, Venice, in 1853. Verdi’s ever-popular opera in three acts tells the story of hedonistic Parisian courtesan Violetta Valery as she falls first for the unobtainable Alfredo Germont, and then fatally ill with consumption. For 2012, Welsh National Opera has revived David McVivar’s careful, moving, traditional 2009 staging to take on tour.
There are a number of firsts for the company here. Conductor Julia Jones, who works more often in Europe, returns home to Wales to make her first, elegantly effective guest appearance with WNO. Canadian soprano Joyce El-Khoury makes a decent debut with the company as Violetta, and a last-minute cast change owing to the indisposition of Mexican tenor Carlos Osuna sees Italian-American tenor Leonardo Capalbo step into the role of Alfredo with admirable ease.
The elegantly simple scenery and opulent costumes are provided by Scottish Opera - the bustles of the jewel-coloured dresses indicating a slight modernising and updating to the tail end of the 19th century, a time of Tissot - while the stage, draped in swathes of black, belies a sense of foreboding, shrouding the cast as love and death play out. Capalbo proves himself capable, believable and emotive as the confused and jealous lover, if slightly clowning as a drunk. However, despite good tonality and movement, both leads lack dramatic oomph. Elsewhere, highlights are provided by the Act II gypsies and matadors ballet sequence, while Eddie Wade is strong as Baron Douphol.
Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, February 11, 18, 29, March 2, then touring until April 20
- Cast includes:
- Running time: