The Lady of the Camellias blooms eternal
By Christine Moffat
La Traviata by Verdi is one of the most often performed and best beloved operas in the world. It tells the tragic tale of courtesan Violetta Valery. She falls for young and earnest Alfredo, but is convinced by his father Giorgio to give up her happiness for the good of his family. When Giorgio realises he has wronged a good woman, and brings Alfredo back to Violetta, it is of course too late, and she dies of tuberculosis in her lover’s arms in the famous finale.
This production marks the 10th anniversary of Melbourne Opera, and La Traviata was also the first opera staged by the company. It is a great celebration of the achievements of Melbourne Opera, a company that is dedicated to providing accessible opera in Melbourne. This production is particularly accessible for a few reasons; it’s performed in English, the ticket prices start low, and the relatively modern costuming all add up to a production that is relatable and engaging for an audience new to opera and for those eager to see their favourite works revisited .
Soprano Antoinette Halloran is particularly moving as the doomed Violetta. Her performance was believable and touching, and her voice is superb. Another stand-out performance came from Manfred Pohlenz in the memorable role of Giorgio, Alfredo’s interfering father. Vocally the entire cast was strong, and the energetic Melbourne Opera chorus were a highlight. The costuming by Andrew Bellchambers and Linda Britten was especially good, ranging from luscious ball gowns to simple country dress and suggesting each character’s place in the world and their individual lifestyle instantly.
The evening lasted three hours with two intervals, but felt much shorter – a testament to how entertaining the performance was. If you are an opera buff, it is a fresh, lively production of an old favourite. If you have never seen an opera, this production would be a brilliant introduction to the genre.
Athenaeum Theatre, 188 Collins St, Melbourne
September 15 – 3.00pm, September 18 – 7.30pm, September 20 – 7.30pm
Alexander Theatre, Monash University
October 11 – 8.00pm
Tickets: $25 – $98