Review: La Traviata performed by Opera at BearwoodBy Charles McLaughlin
July 14, 2010
Review: La Traviata performed by Opera at Bearwood, Saturday, July 10
I have watched this company intermittently over the years, the previous two productions being Verdi’s The Masked Ball and Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love.
Over this time, they have developed immeasurably in all aspects of opera presentation.
Margaret Walker’s 2010 production of La Traviata was, undoubtedly, the high point of this process.
In these days of high-tech special effects in films and the strange eccentricities of avant garde producers, it takes a strong belief to return to traditional stage values and, by simple and beautiful means, create an illusion that not only serves but adds to the unfolding needs of the music and drama. This was most admirably done by the set designer, Paul Hughes.
In a generally strong cast, the singing of Erica Eloff in the title role was, both vocally and dramatically, truly outstanding. As well as a seemingly effortless flow of beautiful free sound, her identification with the character of Violetta was subtly developed.
We were aware from the start that this was an impending tragedy and the realisation of the final aria and death was heart-rending.
A word, too, for Adam Magee in the role of her lover, Alfredo. Mr Magee displays all of the attributes for this very demanding role; a compelling and handsome stage presence and a fine vocal quality; though it sometimes lacked projection when not facing the audience, this was a very fine performance.
It has been said that Giorgio Germont, Alfredo’s forceful and unsympathetic father, is one of the most disliked characters in opera and, therefore, a difficult person to portray. David Salmon’s singing was admirable but I felt it perhaps lacked the necessary forcefulness of character in his opening scene.
The rest of the cast were all excellent, especially Stuart Pendred as the Baron, Lori Tingay Weber as Flora and Gary Maslen as Gastone.
Under the direction of Geoff Horton, the orchestra was never intrusive in the unfolding drama, the production generally moved smoothly and the chorus singing was impressive throughout.