Visually and thematically this Traviata is very messy, but musically she is excellent

Visually and thematically this Traviata is very messy, but musically she is excellent

‘La traviata’ at Dutch National Opera, with the Armenian soprano Mané Galoyan as Violetta in the middle.Statue Monika Rittershaus

Deja vu. At Giuseppe Verdi’s la traviata only a quarter of the seats are occupied by Dutch National Opera. The well-groomed public did their best on this Saturday afternoon, but the cloakroom is closed for corona safety reasons and all those winter coats over the empty seats make a sloppy impression. It is a relief when the hall light goes out and conductor Andrea Battistoni appears.

Since Sunday 28 November, theaters have to close their doors at 5 p.m. and apply the one and a half meter standard again. While many venues have canceled their evening concerts, DNO decided to bring the performances forward. The matinees are allowed within the rules, but such decisions do not help to reduce travel movements.

As a spectator, you are also aware that for every visitor in the room, three others have been ‘selected’. A financial catastrophe, and moreover it is a shame that many opera fans should enjoy this musically excellent Traviata have to miss.

Verdi starts his opera with a spoiler. The overture opens with a lament for the main character, Violetta, a courtesan who falls in love with a neat boy, Alfredo Germont. So we already know she’s going to die of tuberculosis. The slender strings begin to mourn, their sound expanding with the gradual addition of vibrato. You immediately hear a conductor who will deliver big emotions by paying attention to the smallest details.

And that’s what Battistoni does. To be traviata is gripping, heart-moving and propelled by a light-footed, pressing rhythm. A few times he gallops ahead, leaving the Chorus of the Dutch National Opera or the soloists behind, but often, together with the beautifully playing Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, he spins pure poetry.

And then there are the singers. Mané Galoyan has everything for the spirited role of Violetta, especially an agile soprano voice with a natural expressiveness. She sounds confident in the decorated, hedonistic aria in the first act, and is moved when old Germont asks her to leave his son alone.

Galoyan is torn with despair when she agrees and is heartbreaking at the end, when she says goodbye to life in a voice like a thin silver thread. Her Alfredo is the tenor Bogdan Volkov, firm in voice and boisterous in temperament. The mighty baritone George Petean is courteous but unyielding in the role of Papa Germont.

Unfortunately, this top cast is stranded on an ugly platform that may have been proportionate to the Norwegian Opera, where the production comes from, but leaves a lot of black void on the broad Amsterdam stage. At Violetta’s parties, the choir scatters Christmas tree garlands. They should exude luxury and exuberance but look messy.

Director Tatjana Gürbaca uses the choir members everywhere to emphasize that Violetta is stuck with her role of expensive escort. They play their ubiquitous clients and colleagues. In the most intimate scenes, including Violetta’s deathbed scene, people sit distractingly copulate in the background.

Gürbaca tries to broach too many themes in one production: the female body as capital (lots of fluttering banknotes) and as an object (customers in rut everywhere), sexual depravity (men lusting after Alfredo’s underage sister), the tyranny of the public image (Violetta is humiliated because she got out of prostitution). Alfredo also turns out to be a bastard in the end. He takes his betrothed to his dying ex-lover. Who does such a thing?

Visually and thematically this one is Traviata very messy, but musically she deserves as many matinees as she can get.

Is it wise to move forward?

Dutch National Opera has all evening performances from la traviata rescheduled for matinees. The decision was made, says press officer Thijs Faas, ‘because the management feels a responsibility to continue to offer art and culture, especially in these difficult times. Experience shows that theaters that follow the guidelines are not sources of infection, so it can be done safely.’

Face masks and keeping distance are mandatory throughout the building. Within the production team, for example in the orchestra pit, it is not always possible to keep a distance. That is why soloists, choir members and musicians are tested every day they are present in the theater. Under the current restrictions, 400 to 450 of the 1,600 seats may be sold. The number differs per show because, for example, family members are allowed to sit next to each other.

la traviata

Opera

(music)

★★☆☆☆ (direction)

With Mané Galoyan and Bogdan Volkov, among others, directed by Tatjana Gürbaca

4/12, Dutch National Opera & Ballet, Amsterdam. On display until 26/12.

Visually and thematically this Traviata is very messy, but musically she is excellent
Source link Visually and thematically this Traviata is very messy, but musically she is excellent

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