Black Christmas: La Traviata At Royal Opera House
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The original 'hooker with a heart of gold' (and lungs full of blood) is back at The Royal Opera House. It’s a bright and stylish production, which was first seen at the venue 25 years ago. But Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata, or the “fallen woman”, is more than just glamour, bubbles and champagne. It’s also about the frailty of life and how redemption can come in many guises. In this particular version conducted by Daniel Oren, it’s the sombre, more reflective moments of the music that stand out.
In case you were wondering if there’s a plot to all these emotions, the opera centres around Violetta, a courtesan living in Paris yet dying from consumption. At one of her lavish parties, she dumps one lover for another. But her new suitor, a moderately wealthy man called Alfredo, turns out to be more than she expected and they fall in love. Meanwhile, Alfredo’s bourgeois father seeks to restore the family honour while Violetta grapples with moral choices as her health continues to fail.
As Violetta, Hrachuhi Bassenz seems hesitant at the party scenes and lost among the full orchestra. But what she lacks in vocal power, she makes up with her range and vibrato, which helps deliver a nuanced performance.
As her young suitor, Alfredo, Liparit Avetisyan, compliments Bassenz’s voice and well-suits the more sombre tones of this production.
While death looms large, the rest of Richard Eyre’s enduring production is lavishly staged. Everything is either bathed in gold or gorgeously decorated. And the party scenes are just as extravagant as ever with the packed crowds, dancing and chorus singing. But you’re never in doubt that the party is not going to last. Death lingers everywhere. Now that’s a cheery thought for the festive season.
La Traviata, Royal Opera House, Bow Street, WC2E 9DD. Tickets £11-£225, various dates through to 23 March 2020.
Last Updated 18 December 2019