Director: David McVicar
Composer: Giuseppi Verdi
Conductor: Simon Phillippo
Reviewer: Marina Spark
The Welsh National Opera are widely known for tackling the great operas with verve and style. Their leading opera this season is La Traviata, which headlines a trio focussing on the theme of Fallen Women.
This classic opera begins at the end with our hero, Alfredo, played by Leonardo Capalbo, mournfully caressing a decaying red rose. The leading lady is Violetta, played by Linda Richardson, a much in-demand courtesan whose beauty is renowned but whose heart is captured by the youthful, adoring, generous of spirit Alfredo. What follows is a tale of sacrifice for love and deep tragedy.
Capalbo plays Alfredo with boundless energy. His vocal tone is exceptionally easy on the ear and his skill as an opera singer is plain to hear.
Richardson plays Violetta well throughout but certainly flourishes into the character as the opera progresses. She has an exceptional vocal range, as is to be expected from a leading lady, and it is a joy to hear her version of some of the classics from this well-known opera.
The rest of the cast is made up of approximately 40 opera singers and dancers. As highly skilled, experienced performers they all provide a spectacular chorus and support the main characters with professionalism.
The set, designed by Tanya McCallin, manages to simultaneously be as lavish as any traditional opera, yet retain a simplicity that creates an uncomplicated view. The set is not crowded with a naturalistic set, but instead key pieces mark out where the action takes place and how the audience should feel about that setting. The use of colour is a nice touch, with red being associated with Violetta as a courtesan, white dominating the scenes where Violetta and Alfredo spend their time as devoted lovers, and black and grey being used for the parties in Paris.
The orchestra, conducted by Simon Phillippo, is spectacular. Never missing a note, they play with harmony and the full orchestra attack the score in a truly memorable fashion.
The costumes, also designed by McCallin, like the set are relatively uncomplicated. They reflect the use of colour and are effective in taking the audience on a visual as well as plot driven journey. The design aspects of this production of La Traviata appear to be upholding the musicians and performers as the centrepiece and supporting rather than trying to divert attention. This is a welcome change and it does highlight the true marvel of opera, however, traditionalists will miss the opulence that one comes to expect from a traditional opera.
The Welsh National Opera’s La Traviata has everything that one could want from an opera; passion, romance and tragedy. It is plain to see why this opera has stood the test of time and is a favourite of the opera loving community, and the Welsh National Opera have a production to be proud of.
Photo by Bill Cooper | Runs until 29th March 2014