Review / In a nutshell, a winning ‘La Traviata’

Music / “La Traviata – Opera in a Nutshell”. At Wesley Music Centre, August 18. Reviewed by LEN POWER

Soprano Sarahlouise Owens… in fine voice.

“LA Traviata” by Giuseppe Verdi was first performed in 1853 in Venice.  Based on the 1848 novel, “The Lady of the Camellias”, by Alexandre Dumas fils about the tragic love affair between a courtesan dying of consumption and her lover, Alfredo, the opera has remained popular internationally to this day.

“Opera in a Nutshell” is a scaled-down presentation of the highlights of the opera in about 90 minutes including interval. It focuses on the main arias sung by three of the principle characters – Violetta, the courtesan (Sarahlouise Owens, soprano), her lover, Alfredo (Christopher Lincoln Bogg, tenor) and Alfredo’s father, Germont (Colin Milner, baritone).  Verdi’s opera is a good choice for this treatment as the arias presented are hauntingly beautiful and mostly well-known.

The music normally sung by the chorus is omitted. As well as singing Germont, Colin Milner provides a narration to cover the cuts in the story.  The fine musical accompaniment was by Colleen Rae-Gerrard on piano and Matthew Witney on violin. It was presented on a simple drawing room setting with attractive period furniture that created the right atmosphere.

Commencing with the rousing brindisi drinking song, “Libiamo ne’ lieti calici” (Let’s drink from the joyous cups), Sarahlouise Owens and Christopher Lincoln Bogg were both in fine voice. Continuing on to the more dramatic, “Un dì, felice, eterea” (One day, happy and ethereal), they were both convincing in their portrayal of the growing love between their characters. Owens was especially effective with her singing of the well-known “Sempre Libre” (Always free.)

From the second act, Alfredo’s aria, “De’ miei bollenti spiriti / Il giovanile ardore” (The youthful ardour of my ebullient spirits) was very well sung by Christopher Lincoln Bogg. Colin Milner as Germont, displayed his fine baritone voice with an impressive and authoritative performance of the father pleading in song for Violetta to break off the relationship with her son.

After interval, there was more fine singing of songs from the second and third acts. The voices of Bogg and Milner blended especially well in their confrontation scene and Sarahlouise Owens was very moving with her beautiful singing of her death bed aria.

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