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  • Helen Gramotnev


In the age of continuous modernising, re-imagining, and contemporising classical works, Opera Queensland (in a co-production with State Opera South Australia and West Australian Opera) proves Verdi is timeless, moving, and still highly relevant today.

The latest production of La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi is an incredibly human portrayal of love, sacrifice, misunderstanding, jealousy, and remorse. The cast is led by Lorina Gore (Violetta), Kang Wang (Alfredo) and José Carbó (Germont). It takes us through the story of Violetta, a high-class courtesan, who must choose between her long-awaited happiness and the expectation of the society for the benefit of another.

Verdi loves monumental, triumphant musical statements, and they accompany almost every aria of La Traviata. But it is the intimacy permeating through the staging that brings to life the composer’s vocal acrobatics so masterfully delivered by the cast. The storyline is based on the novel The Lady of the Camellias by Alexandre Dumas (son), which itself was based on the writer’s own encounter with a “fallen woman”. Three forbidden pairs of lovers echo the triple measure of waltz tempo, which is intermittently used throughout the opera, emphasising the glimmers of hope and happiness in this otherwise tragic story. The waltz carries the drama of the domestic scenes (of which Verdi was a master!) to epic heights, intensified by the singers’ flawless performances.

The staging (with sets and costumed designed by Charles Davis) increases the sense of intimacy during the performance. The set implies a bigger world outside Violetta’s house at the beginning of the opera, but becomes small, restricted, and increasingly internalised as the story progresses. By the end, the outside is no longer visible, and the whiteness of the walls, combined with the darkness of the servants’ attire, gradually resembles a clinical or a monasterial setting, and we feel Violetta slipping away from her earthly life. The costumes, lavishly conveying the seduction of the luxurious high society and its extravagant social life, are at the same time reminiscent of the modern haute couture, again emphasising the timelessness of this opera.

The beautiful match of Verdi’s musical genius and Dumas’s taste for tragedy, combined in this enticing production creates the feeling of Icarus’s flight towards the sun on his mechanical wings. As the boy excitedly flies higher and higher, the sun eventually melts the glue holding his man-made wings together, and he plummets to the ground to his demise. This Opera Queensland production of La Traviata is a feast for the senses and is a must-see for any music or theatre lover!

La Traviata is playing at the Lyric Theatre (QPAC) until 23 July.


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