Haunting and brilliant Verdi
LA TRAVIATA Seen at Theatre Royal, Glasgow Touring until December 2
IT’S easy to see why there was so much resistance to Giuseppe Verdi’s work, both from 19thcentury audiences and from the political and cultural establishment of the day. Although his music was exquisite, his political instincts were in conflict with the stern and hypocritical mores of his society.
La Traviata (The Fallen Woman) is a love story and a morality tale about Violetta Valery, the high-class prostitute of Dumas’s novel La Dame Aux Camelias. Turning her back on her former life for the love of young society gentleman Alfredo Germont, she is confronted with the threats and exhortations of Alfredo’s puritanical father Giorgio. More loving of Alfredo than her adversary, Violetta rejects her lover, to spare him and his family the strictures of an unforgiving society.
A brilliant revival of David McVicar’s 2008 production, Marie Lambert’s Scottish Opera staging takes us to the very heart of the opulent and cynical society soirées of mid-1800s Paris. Splendidly costumed, set and lit (by Tanya McCallin, design, and Stephen Powles, lighting), the piece looks and feels like a living premonition.
Dutch tenor Peter Gijsbertsen gives a vital and anguished performance as Alfredo, while English baritone Stephen Gadd offers a perfect, stiffnecked rendering of the brutally upright Giorgio. The performance of the evening, however, is Russian soprano Gulnara Shafigullina’s hauntingly sympathetic, gorgeously sung Violetta. Tour dates: scottishopera.org.uk