19 September 2013

Mini review: La Traviata

La Traviata
Melbourne Opera 
15 September 2013
The Athaneum
to 22 September
and on 11 October ar the Alexander Theatre at Monash Uni

As it's 200 years since Guiseppe Verdi was born, opera companies of all sizes are celebrating and Melbourne Opera have re-mounted their successful production of his most popular (and possibly the most well-known) opera, La Traviata.

It was also my weekend of seeing companies who normally bypass my radar.

Melbourne Opera were founded in 2002 with a vision to provide opportunities to emerging singers, make opera accessible (affordable) and bring it to the wider community. Their financial support comes mostly from a very long list of donors and sponsors and their very-full audiences.

This is their third Traviata: a love story between Violetta, a Parisienne socialite, and Alfredo, the man who wins her flighty heart. All is good and sexy (but unmarried and shocking) until Alfredo's butts in and tells Violetta that the relationship too scandalous. To save her love, Violetta lies to Alfredo and things get nasty at another big party.  And Violetta has TB and it's getting worse.

With minimal resources, minimal rehearsal time and a dedication to giving everyone a go, this is an opera for people who know and love the work.  It's also produced for the people on the stage, with a double cast and a huge chorus, so that everyone gets a go.

All of this means that it's not the slickest or most original show in town. The costumes don't match, the chorus have to squeeze in to get on stage and some of the principals are more interested in singing the role than acting it.

But none of this really takes away from it.

It's a Traviata that's made from a passion for the work and this overcomes so much that it's pretty much sold out for the rest of its season

As it's sung in English, it's also an affordable introduction to opera and might be terrific preparation for Victorian Opera's 2014 La Traviata.

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