Celebrating the 200th Birthday of Italian master composer Giuseppe Verdi, and to mark the 10th anniversary of Melbourne Opera, the Company presented one of Verdi’s most popular operas, La Traviata.
An opera in three acts, La Traviata or The Strayed Woman is based on La dame aux Camélias (1852), a play adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas.
Originally set to an Italian Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, Melbourne Opera’s production was presented in English featuring Antoinette Halloran as the doomed courtesan Violetta.
There is so much to love about this La Traviata, a robust chorus supporting some strong performances on a purposeful set, but it is over shadowed by a lack of attention to detail and a need for some strong artistic decision making.
Halloran is one of Australia’s most accomplished and best-loved sopranos currently on the opera stage. Her portrayal of Violetta was highly polished and offered a rounded coloratura sound. Disappointingly, Roy Best’s Alfredo was woodenly anguished and lacked passion. His vocal dexterity was under-whelming and no match for Halloran’s highly developed voice.
Manfred Pohlenz’s richly timbered and menacing portrayal of Giorgio Germont, Alfredo’s father, was one of the standout performances of the evening. Caroline Vercoe, Ian Cousins, Simon Meadows, Jacob Caine and Felicity Baldock was a fine supporting cast.
Suzanne Chaundy presents a no nonsense presentation of this romantic masterpiece, utilising sets conceived by Andrew Bellchambers and Hugh Halliday for the Company’s 2009 production. More attention to detail should have been applied to the dressing of the set as the physical surrounds looked incomplete or incorrectly hung.
The smaller stage of the Athenaeum struggles to cope with such a large chorus, making for a number of awkward moments especially during the dance interludes. In this case, the less is more principal would have been more fitting.
The orchestra at times displayed a nicely developed sound though inevitably suffers under conductor Greg Hocking’s lagging tempos which contributes to the productions underlying awkwardness.
The Athenaeum Theatre – 188 Collins Street, Melbourne
Performance: Wednesday 11 September 2013 – 7.30pm
Season continues to 20 September 2013
Alexander Theatre, Monash University, Clayton
Performance: 11 October 2013
Bookings: 13 28 49 or online at: www.ticketek.com.au
For more information, visit: www.melbourneopera.com for details.
Review: Rohan Shearn Image: Antoinette Halloran as Violetta and Roy Best as Alfredo