Magazine article Musical Opinion

La Traviata: English National Opera

Magazine article Musical Opinion

La Traviata: English National Opera

Article excerpt

How far is it legitimate to change a work of art, to meld it to your preconceptions, to your new artistic ideal? One must ask questions like these when one approaches ENO's new Traviata, part of the Verdi bicentenary celebrations which arrived on February 2.

Whilst the singing istop notch, exemplary even, far more than tweaks have been made to the libretto and general storyline. The three acts have been rounded up into only one with no interlude, the story is shortened to one hour fifty minutes, so at least 20 minutes has been cut, including a sizeable chunk from the gambling party at Flora's whilst others have been noticeably pruned; now if it's a six hour Wagner one can see the point but Traviata is hardly onerous in that department. Worse, Germont senior arrives with a daughter with which to blackmail Violetta. It's true that it's a non speaking role but she is neither in the original opera, nor in the book upon which it is based so surely it's hardly homage if you think the work needs an improvement?

On the plus side, and it's a big plus, Corinne Wnters as Violetta was quite simply superb. Her diction, angst, acting and general persona would be hard to better. I saw Anna Netrebko a few years ago at the Royal Opera House's Traviata and I believed in Corinne far more. There is immediacy, innocence, a feeling that this is a true real person. In this production she is less courtesan more common prostitute, a lower social order altogether which would certainly explain Germont's displeasure. In an age when our heir to the throne not only marries a commoner but one whose parents are engaged in trade, quell' horreur, it's difficult to imagine those social times; Germont all but engages in an 'honour killing'. …

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