Welsh National Opera has returned to Milton Keynes Theatre with their productions of Ainadamar and La Traviata.
The company’s decision to stage Ainadamar, a flamenco-infused opera by Osvaldo Golijov, was a bold and ultimately rewarding choice. The opera, sung in Spanish for the first time by WNO, tells the story of Spanish poet Federico García Lorca through the lens of his muse, Margarita Xirgu.
The production, under the guidance of Deborah Colker, shined in its integration of dance, music, and visual storytelling. Colker, known for her work in the 2016 Rio Olympics and with Cirque du Soleil, brought a dynamic and visually stunning approach to the opera. The choreography was particularly notable, blending classical opera with traditional flamenco in a way that was both innovative and deeply evocative of Lorca’s spirit.
The cast, led by Jaquelina Livieri as Margarita Xirgu and Hanna Hipp as Federico García Lorca, delivered powerful performances. They were ably supported by Julieth Lozano Rolong, Alfredo Tejada, Annie Reilly, and Beca Davies, each adding depth and emotion to the production. Matthew Kofi Waldren’s conducting seamlessly tied together the musical elements, creating an immersive and haunting auditory experience.
The staging was ingeniously simple yet effective. A circular rope curtain served as a dynamic backdrop, onto which phrases and dream sequences were projected, adding layers of meaning and visual interest without overshadowing the performances. The use of props was minimal but purposeful, ensuring the focus remained on the actors and the story they were telling.
The emotional impact of the opera was profound. The singing was not just technically proficient but emotionally charged, moving many in the audience to tears. The overall experience was described as overwhelming and deeply affecting, with the artistic direction and composition deserving of high praise.
Despite the show’s relatively short duration of one and a half hours, it left a lasting impression. The only regret noted was the missed opportunity for a standing ovation, a sentiment that speaks volumes about the quality of the performance and the impact it had on its audience.
In summary, Ainadamar at Milton Keynes Theatre was a remarkable blend of opera, dance, and visual storytelling, showcasing the talents of a diverse cast and creative team. It stands as a testament to the power of innovative opera to move and engage audiences, and is a must-see for anyone interested in the future of operatic performance.
Welsh National Opera’s rendition of Verdi’s “La Traviata,” directed by Sarah Crisp under Sir David McVicar’s vision, is a testament to the timeless allure of this classic opera. This production, set to the expert conducting of Alexander Joel, brings a fresh perspective to the beloved tale of love, sacrifice, and societal norms, based on Alexandre Dumas fils’ novel “La Dame aux Camélias.”
The casting of Stacey Alleaume as Violetta Valéry is a stroke of brilliance. Making her WNO debut, Alleaume embodies the elegance and complexity of the courtesan torn between love and duty. Her portrayal of Violetta’s emotional journey, from the dizzying heights of Parisian society to the depths of personal sacrifice, is both poignant and captivating. Her vocal performance is not only technically impressive but also rich in emotional depth, perfectly capturing the character’s turmoil and strength.
David Junghoon Kim, as the earnest poet Alfredo Germont, complements Alleaume’s performance with a mix of passion and naivety. His portrayal of Alfredo is heartfelt, and his vocal prowess matches the demands of Verdi’s score, offering a nuanced understanding of the character’s evolution throughout the opera.
Mark S Doss, as Giorgio Germont, Alfredo’s father, adds a compelling layer to the narrative. His powerful bass-baritone voice and commanding stage presence bring depth to the character, who represents the societal pressures and moral dilemmas central to the story. Doss’s performance is a standout, providing a counterbalance to the young lovers’ idealism with his portrayal of paternal authority and societal convention.
The production itself is a visual and auditory feast. The staging, costuming, and lighting all work in harmony to recreate the opulence and tragedy of 19th-century Parisian society. The set design effectively transports the audience to the various settings of the opera, from the lavish party scenes to the intimate moments of despair and decision.
In summary, this production of “La Traviata” at the Welsh National Opera is a resounding success. It strikes a fine balance between respecting the traditional elements of Verdi’s masterpiece and injecting a fresh vibrancy through its cast and direction. The strong performances across the board ensure that the audience is not just watching an opera but experiencing the full gamut of emotions that this timeless story evokes. For both aficionados and newcomers to opera, this production of “La Traviata” is a deeply satisfying experience that showcases the enduring power and beauty of Verdi’s work.
Thu 16 & Sat 18 November 2023 at 7:30pm at Milton Keynes Theatre