La Traviata – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Reviewer: Lauren Humphreys

Composer: Guiseppe Verdi

Libretto: Francesco Maria Piave after La Dame aux Camélias by Alexandre Dumas fils

Conductor: Stuart Stratford

Director: Sir David McVicar

Designer: Tanya McCallin

Original Lighting: Jennifer Tipton

Choreographer: Andrew George

Revival Director: Leo Castaldi

Revival Lighting: Robert B. Dickson

Assistant Director: Thomas Henderson

Assistant Choreographer: Sirena Tocco

Sir David McVicar’s 2008 traditional staging of Giuseppe Verdi’s tragic opera La Traviata is a favourite with Scottish Opera’s loyal audience and rightfully so. Here it returns triumphantly for its second revival.

It’s Belle Époque Paris, and after a hedonistic life, famed courtesan Violetta Valéry (Hye-Youn Lee) has achieved what she thought unachievable: she has finally found love with her long-time admirer, the young, idealistic, well-connected Alfredo Germont (Ji-Min Park). But the demi-monde of Paris is scandalised by their relationship, none more so than Alfredo’s father Giorgio (Phillip Rhodes). Violetta is living on borrowed time: her past is not the only obstacle to her final chance of happiness, her failing health is fast taking its toll.

Causing shock, and scandalising the local clergy who decried the “immorality of Italian opera” on its Scottish premiere in 1857, Scottish Opera has brought Verdi’s work to life with a cast of strong principles and soloists, a teeming chorus, dancers, actors and performances from the company’s latest Emerging and Associate Artists: Lea Shaw, Monwabisi Lindi, and Ross Cumming.

While the shock value has disappeared and the social mores of the day long forgotten, the tragic love story at its heart is eternal. Sir David McVicar’s production is sumptuous, a visual and aural treat from the moment the curtain rises until it falls. It is a perfect painting of the period brought to life. The quality of the music unquestionably excellent. The Orchestra of Scottish Opera are on their finest form, filling every centimetre of the auditorium.

The lush and lavish staging in the party sequences with a full-blooded chorus, actors and dancers are of course a highlight, but it impresses as much in its quieter more emotional moments. The characterisations are beautifully developed, the singers acting skills a match for their vocals. It is also a production where each featured role makes its own impact, no matter how large or small. Lee and Park as the fateful lovers are beautifully matched. Phillip Rhodes impresses as Giorgio Germont, perfectly portraying the characters emotional arc as does Nicholas Lester as the imposing Barone Douphol.

While looking perfectly of the period, this is no period piece, McVicar tells the story in a fresh, vivid way. The nearly three-hour running time flashes by in the blink of an eye. The audience gripped for its entirety.

The current season at Scottish Opera comes to a triumphant close with this pitch perfect production.

Runs until 18 May 2024 then touring | Image: James Glossop

The Reviews Hub Score

A pitch perfect production

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The Reviews Hub - Scotland

The Scotland team is under the editorship of Lauren Humphreys. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. We aim to review all professional types of theatre, whether that be Commercial, Repertory or Fringe as well as Comedy, Music, Gigs etc.

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