Review: A ‘Traviata’ to die for

Share Canberra's trusted news:

Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour: “La Traviata,” by Giuseppe Verdi, for Opera Australia, directed by Francesca Zambello, conducted by Brian Castles-Onion, at Mrs Macquarie’s Point, Sydney, until April 15, bookings to www.ticketmaster.com.au

Reviewed by Helen Musa

A spectacular burst of fireworks served as the final “curtain” to the opening performance of Opera Australia’s bold harbourside production of “La Traviata” on Saturday night.

A large crowd of opera lovers had gathered in seating before the large stage jutting out into the water, with both the Bridge and Sydney Opera House on the skyline.

Hovering over the performance was an enormous chandelier that the Phantom of the Opera would have killed for, a simple but brilliant conception by design Brian Thomson that, when lit by John Rayment, absorbed the moods of the work – glittering and  sombre.

Verdi’s  tragic opera was the ideal choice, both grand in its extravagant party scenes and intimate in that a very few characters are explored in some depth.

Emma  Matthews, who plays the doomed courtesan Violetta,  is celebrated as a virtuoso and uses her exceptional vocal range to run the gamut from drunken frivolity to the depths of despair.

Director Francesca Zambello has taken pains to emphasise the perils of pursuing the brittle, sophisticated life of the Parisian demimonde, enhanced by the updated but heavily-styled costumes by Tess Schofield. Zambello begins the opera as Franco Zeffirelli did, in the moments after Violetta’s death and playing the rest of it as a flashback.

She is aided by passionate performances from  tenor Gianluca Terranova as the young Alfredo, who stakes everything on the mysteries of love and baritone Jonathan Summers as his  father Germont, who totally misreads the character of Violetta.

To my mind, these two performers entered into the emotional depths of the acting rather more than Matthews, whose performance was brilliantly “out there”.

Unlike interior opera performances, for Handa Opera, the singers were “miked”, perfectly audible on a perfect Sydney night with the hidden orchestra flawlessly balanced.

This  is a daring gamble, designed to get opera out to the wider public; with the help of the weather deities, it should go well.

 

Who Can You Trust?

In a world beleaguered by spin and confused messages, there's never been more need for diverse, trustworthy, independent journalism in Canberra.

Who can you trust? Well, for more than 25 years, "CityNews" has proudly been an independent, free, family-owned news magazine, serving the national capital with quality, integrity and authority. Through our weekly magazine and daily through our digital platforms, we constantly and reliably deliver high-quality and diverse opinion, news, arts, socials and lifestyle columns.

If you trust our work online and believe in the power of independent voices, I encourage you to make a small contribution.

Every dollar of support will be invested back into our journalism so we can continue to provide a valuably different view of what's happening around you and keep citynews.com.au free.

Click here to make your donation and you will be supporting the future of journalism and media diversity in the ACT.

Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

Previous articleTeens face stolen car charges
Next articleReview: Through a glass, darkly
Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

1 COMMENT

  1. Yes it was a “Traviata” night to die for! Verdi would like it surely! Magnificent singing, wonderful music, fairy-tale like surroundings! Just magic! Congratulation to all. But our favorite singer, the thrilling tenor, Gianluca Terranova`s singing and acting melted our hearts! Thank you very much for your great article!

Leave a Reply