Touring – reviewed at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking
La Traviata, Verdi’s well-loved opera, has spawned various productions and inspired a number of other works, including Moulin Rouge which is set to open on Broadway in June 2019. This success is partly due to the fact that it is a passionate and moving piece which still remains fiercely relevant in terms of gender roles and male privilege.
This current Glyndebourne tour which is celebrating its 50th year is a beautiful showcase of Verdi’s music and an emotive story about honour, honesty and love. The inbuilt drama from Violetta abandoning her life as a courtesan, living with Alfredo, having their idyll torn away by his father and facing terminal illness the entire time, of course leads to a well-rounded piece. However, there is little chemistry between the struggling couple so they fail to fully capture the audience’s hearts and take them on the gut-wrenching journey La Traviata should provide.
The production’s most moving pieces come from Giorgio (Noel Bouley) and Violetta (Mané Galoyan) who have an equal, but well-performed bond on stage. Armenian Soprano Galoyan is certainly the star of the show, providing vulnerability, fragility and beauty whilst also giving us emotionally intense and opulent vocals. The Glyndebourne tour orchestra deftly performs the intricate score, with guidance from conductor Christoph Altstaedt who manages to highlight key moments of score and plot-line with ease and dexterity.
Hildegard Bechtler’s sets and costumes are not period specific which works well to make the piece feel strangely relevant, whilst also embodying an eerie air about the whole thing. A cool colour palette of beiges, blacks and greys, punctuated with sharp hints of red, does a good job of drawing our eyes to certain places and highlighting the passion and greed throughout.
The sets and costumes, alongside Peter Mumford and Keith Benson’s extremely subtle lighting, make this an engaging but not over the top piece of theatre. The transitions from warm light to cool light throughout scene two, as well as the removal of the few pops of pink on stage, do a great job of mirroring the tensions which are rising. Another detail is Violetta’s hair which changes fractionally throughout, from an intricate updo at the start to an untamed style as her health reaches its lowest point.
This really is a production of subtlety where everything is brought out gracefully to have a fully enchanting effect. This is a production to welcome you into opera with open arms and either reignite a passion or create a passion for the art-form and Verdi’s music.
La Traviata is on again at the New Victoria Theatre on 24th November, before continuing it’s tour.
photo credit: Robert Workman