This review was originally written for The Public Reviews
Opera North’s new production of Verdi’s La Traviata may have been 15 years in the making but it’s certainly worth the wait.
Fiercely passionate, profoundly moving and devastatingly tragic, La Traviata is widely considered the most popular opera of all time and is arguably Giuseppe Verdi’s best work. It is based on Alexander Dumas’ autobiographical tale La Dame aux Camelias about his affair with Marie Cuplessis who died aged 23 of tuberculosis and has since inspired many productions, including Baz Luhrmann’s 1991 musical Moulin Rouge.
La Traviata tells the story of Violetta, a famed courtesan who is enjoying Parisian high-life when, to her surprise, she falls in love with a young nobleman called Alfredo. Violetta’s hopes of happiness however are dashed when her past life catches up to her and she is soon forced to sacrifice what may be her only chance of real love.
The story takes place over three acts and features some of opera’s most famous pieces including the famous drinking song Libiamo ne’ lieti calici. The score was written by Verdi at the peak of his powers, resulting in a profoundly moving masterpiece that is both lyrical and heartbreaking and beautifully conducted by Gianluca Marcianò who makes his Opera North debut.
Hye-Youn Lee is outstanding as Violetta, playing the character with power, passion and a feverish intensity that is utterly compelling. Her aria of freedom Sempre Libera is enchanting and beautifully sung. Ji-Min Park is also superb as the sweet and powerful tenor Alfredo. His vocal performance is flawless and his chemistry with Hye-Youn Lee is simply captivating.
Madeleine Boyd’s fabulous set and costume design is stunning with each scene is beautifully staged from Violetta’s lavish parties to the simple yet emotive final scene. Alessandro Talevi’s superb direction is also bursting with ideas, resulting in an adaption that is fresh, original and unforgettable. The performance is sung in Italian with English surtitles, making it easy for opera novices to get their head around the story.
Passionate, moving and incredibly intense, Opera North bring Verdi’s timeless story of love, loss and tragedy to life in a beautiful production of La Traviata that will have you moved to tears.
Runs until Friday 21 November
Reviewer: Donna Kelly
Photo: Richard H Smith