La Traviata Meets Prohibition In Kilburn — Review

Sophia Shluger
By Sophia Shluger Last edited 35 months ago
La Traviata Meets Prohibition In Kilburn — Review ★★★★☆ 4

Photo: Andreas Grieger

Londonist Rating: ★★★★☆

With a new libretto in English, Robin Norton-Hale's Prohibition era rendition of Verdi's La Traviata speaks easy to this classic operatic tragedy in III acts. Within a dazzlingly ornate 1920s setting, Traviata chronicles Violetta, a woman recently resurrected from her troubled past who's forced to sacrifice newfound happiness for her loved ones.

Harry Blake's new orchestration performed by the talented musical trio of piano (Alex Beetschen), clarinet (Sarah Douglas) and cello (Alison Holford) complements the accompanying vocal talent. Soprano Louisa Tee gives goosebumps as Violetta and is a sweet match to her lover Alberto (Robin Bailey) during their various emotional duets. The remaining cast — notably James Harrison as towering Germont, Flora McIntosh as charming Flora and Dario Dugandzic as an equally refined Baron and Doctor — delight and impress in their roles.

Pervasive yellow lighting juxtaposed against an earthy background lends Traviata a relatively calm tone in the face of its great drama. Ceremonious, repetitive draping and undraping of the single centre room chaise (among other props) is a clever use of the set in its seamless signalling of the passage of time. In addition, shiny and intricate costumes of satin and sequins add another dimension of elegance. Yet despite the polished backdrop, one can't help but feel unsettled with Traviata's plot as with the circumstances of Prohibition — it's a performance laced with drama.

Presented by OperaUpClose and Belgrade Theatre Coventry, the show is as accessible as it could be, particularly given its English libretto, which is a marked yet compelling departure from its classic version and deeply contrasts to the melodic music and typical Italian libretto. A hot Tricycle Theatre, a cool Prohibition setting and warm performances all round are stirred together to create a potent cocktail of theatre.

The show runs at Tricycle Theatre until 4 July. Tickets £13-£29. Londonist saw the show on a complimentary ticket.  

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Last Updated 25 June 2015