FeaturedOperaReviewSouth West

WNO’s La Traviata – Theatre Royal Plymouth

Reviewer: Marina Spark

Composer: Giuseppi Verdi

Original Director: David McVicar

Revival Director: Sarah Crisp

Conductor: Alexander Joel

Assistant Conductor: Frederick Brown

The Welsh National Opera’s production of La Traviata rolls into the Theatre Royal Plymouth this week with all the pomp and ceremony one would expect. The production boasts a large cast of more than 40 and a highly decorative set, designed by Tanya McCallin. Revival Director, Sarah Crisp, breathes new life and vigour into this iconic tragic opera.

Crisp’s cast is faultless. Leading lady Stacey Alleaume plays Violetta Valery, the ill-fated courtesan who gives up a hedonistic lifestyle for her true love, the penniless aristocratic poet Alfredo Germont, played by David Junghoon Kim. Having never believed in love, Violetta is reluctant to give in to her admirer initially, however, following some declarations of devotion from Alfredo and mutual infatuation, the pair are inseparable. Tragically, Alfredo’s father makes a devastating request of Violetta and the happy scene unravels.

Along with her vocals being technically brilliant, Alleaume gives Violetta an intelligent and relatable quality which is entirely refreshing to see in this role. Junghoon Kim delivers an impressive Alfredo, whose steadfast dedication to Violetta and rollercoaster of emotions following Violetta’s desertion is heart wrenching to watch. Mark S Doss plays Giorgio Germont, Alfredo’s father. The audience empathises with Giorgio Germont as he takes his own affecting journey and realises the destruction that he causes to Violetta and Alfredo.

The set is comprised of very realistic and elaborate pieces. This realism lends itself well to a traditional opera such as La Traviata. The audience is instantly transported to 1850s Paris through McCallin’s sensitive and well thought out set. This production truly is a feast for the eyes; with real, lit candles adorning the fully laid tables of food, chairs artfully decorated with strewn throws, and translucent panelling perfectly mirroring a town house of the period.

McCallin’s design incorporates huge black and white draped curtains which beautifully frame the scenes and cleverly shift the focus when required. Of course, when sets are complex additional time is required to change scenes. On one such occasion it felt that the pause for a re-set was too lengthy. Particular note must also be made of the costumes, which are stunning, with 1850s Parisian fashion being beautifully showcased throughout.

The orchestra is flawless, delivering the famous and much-loved score in a memorable and frisson-inducing fashion. The score contains some of the most recognisable arias and melodies from the operatic world and Frederick Brown’s performance as Assistant Conductor certainly brings these to life.

Lovers of classic opera will enjoy this production immensely.

Runs until 4 November 2023

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The Southwest team is under the editorship of John McRoberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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