Wednesday, 18 January 2012

La Traviata, Royal Opera

Finally, maybe 19 performances in (even the cast have lost count, apparently), I have been to see one of the shows in the Royal Opera's gargantuan run of Richard Eyre's La Traviata (Paul Higgnins directing the revival). It's a nicely straightforward production with Bob Crowley's vertiginous design trompes for the Act 1 party and the Act 2 gaming scene adding notably gloss.

The cast I had on this evening were led by Ermonela Jaho as Violetta, apparently as consumptive as her character during the first Act but rather affecting during the third. Stephen Costello was secure as Alfredo where Jaho was flaky - but where Jaho was indisputably in character Costello was a little mummy's-boy for the tearaway lover. I'd looked forward to Paolo Gavanelli's Germond very much, and the Italian delivered exactly the sort of tone required by the over-parochial father, although its pushed, tickly-vibrato quality reminded me of Aage Haugland at his least convincing. None of the trio really seemed totally at home on stage but then the third cast in a *cough*-numbered revival will always be guests at their own party.

Of the second-tier roles, Justina Gringyte was less of the Austen-irritant that Flora can be reduced to. Later generations of Royal Opera basses in Jeremy White and Robert Lloyd were as reliable as tectonic plates as the Marquis and the doctor. Maurizio Benini favours brisk tempi and the leggiero this demanded favoured the cast. I thoroughly enjoyed the performance for all the nit-picking above, though I have to say I still await earth-shattering Verdi at the Royal Opera House.

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