Glyndebourne’s opera tour has returned to Milton Keynes Theatre with two productions this week. A modern twist on Cinderella with Cendrillon and Verdi’s La Traviata.
La Traviata is the most performed opera in the world, and has held the top spot for most of the last decade with 4,162 performances last season, ahead of the closest rival, Carmen on 3,524. And this production demonstrates why it’s so enduring and popular.
La Traviata is a perfect storm of love, lust, tragedy and deception told with the help of very familiar music which gives the performers the chance to really dial up the passion and wring out every emotion from this Parisian love story. It’s moving, powerful and dramatic. Famously, it was the opera which moved Julia Roberts to tears in Pretty Woman and the main character Violetta has a lot in common with Vivian in the movie, being a ‘courtesan’ with a heart of gold whose relationship is apparently doomed.
The story follows Violetta and Alfredo as they meet at a lavish party and Alfredo confesses to having loved her from afar for a year. She is initially skeptical but he wins her over and they run away to Provence but Alfredo’s Dad turns up and somehow persuades her that she needs to leave her lover to avoid bringing shame on his family. So off she goes, but Alfredo tracks her down at a party and tells her how unimpressed he is with the situation, especially the fact she has now hooked up with an elderly duke before challenging her new lover to a duel. But will love win out in the final act? Or will this tragedy end badly for the pair?
Glyndebourne have cast this production very well. The leading lady, Mane Galoyan has an incredible stage presence as Violetta and delivers some impeccable arias and is totally believable as she goes through a rollercoaster of emotions during the story. Alongside her as Alfredo is Fabrizio Paesano who has a powerful and emotive voice, winning over the audience as his character struggles to cope with the ensuing melodrama. Supporting them is a cast of dozens who bring the hedonistic lifestyle of the Paris party scene to life.
This is an excellent production of one of the greatest operas and for anyone new to opera, there is no better introduction.