Thursday, 9 January 2020

La Traviata at the Royal Opera House.

Verdi’s eternally popular opera, La traviata, returned to the Royal Opera House in December 2019, and with Christmas almost upon us CMK and I went to opening night so I could finally experience an opera that wasn't a five-hour long epic Wagner. La traviata is the perfect opera for newbies or anyone who isn't really 'into' opera. Personally I'm more of a ballet gal and go to see Giselle, Romeo & Juliet, Sleeping Beauty, and Swan Lake whenever they're on, but when it comes to opera I tend to stick to Wagner (I still cry at Tannhauser's overture), or the likes of Porgy & Bess. So, let me tell you a little more about La traviata, and why you HAVE to see it...

Firstly, this Season is especially special as the Royal Opera House are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the premiere of Richard Eyre’s magnificent production of La traviata, which perfectly encapsulates the colour, glamour and splendour of 19th-century Paris against which the heroine’s tragedy unfolds. Throughout the entire performance I was entranced by the costumes, the music, and the beauty of the story.

Although the opera is sung in Italian, they have English sub-titles above the stage so you know exactly what's going on. At first I was worried they would be distracting, but actually it really helped and it's easy to still concentrate and watch the opera while the sub-titles are in your line of vision (if that makes any sense).

When it comes to the opera itself, La traviata contains some of Verdi’s finest and best-known music. If, like me, you grew up in a house full of music and instruments and Saturday's spent at orchestra and concert band, you'll recognise a huge amount of the pieces within La traviata. Lyrical arias and vibrant choruses abound, and I spent my time completely mesmerised.

The story is based on Alexandre Dumas fils’s novel and play La Dame aux camélias, itself based on the life of Dumas’ own lover Marie Duplessis. La traviata tells the story of the courtesan Violetta and the passionate love she feels for Alfredo Germont – a love that leads her to make the ultimate sacrifice. Verdi’s most romantic opera has delighted audiences around the world for more than 150 years and Richard Eyre’s wonderful production has been a staple of The Royal Opera’s repertory since 1994. It's well worth seeing, and the time flies by (unlike certain other operas, ahem), but you need to be quick in seeing it as it finishes in March!

Cast-wise, five internationally-acclaimed singers perform the role of Violetta over the course of the run: the Armenian soprano Hrachuhi Bassenz, the Azerbaijani soprano Dinara Alieva, the Russian sopranos Kristina Mkhitaryan and Vlada Borovko (the latter a former Royal Opera Jette Parker Young Artist) and the Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak. We saw Hrachuhi Bassenz and she was magnificent, radiant, and just incredible. There were moments when my jaw quite literally dropped and I felt myself tear up (although hey, I'm a sensitive person, so I cry at the smallest things haha).

We then also saw Violetta’s lover Alfredo Germont performed by Armenian tenor Liparit Avetisyan, and Alfredo’s father Giorgio Germont performed by British baritone Simon Keenlyside (who, according to opera-buff and ex-opera singer CMK is a *really* big deal in the opera world).

La traviata lasts 3 hours 20 minutes, but that includes two intervals (so two opportunities to have the ROH's insanely good Egg & Truffle Mayo sandwich). La traviata has performances running until 23rd March, with the matinee performance on 1 February 2020 being British Sign Language.

We had the best evening seeing La traviata, and it's definitely made me want to see more opera's rather than just sticking to the ballet constantly!

You can book tickets on the Royal Opera House website here, and prices start at just £11!

*Our tickets were complimentary but all views are of course my own


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