La Traviata @ The Mayflower, Southampton

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When Welsh National Opera were last on tour we were mesmerised by their production of Tosca and fascinated by their Anna Bolena. On hearing they were returning to The Mayflower we dispatched our good friend and opera lover Emma van Kooperen to check out their take on another classic…

Returning to the Mayflower with La Traviata as part of their Fallen Women season the Welsh National Opera do not disappoint. Verdi’s story of an opulent woman of ill-repute who amongst her pleasure seeking finds true love which, as in many great operas, ends tragically.

 

As Violetta, Linda Richardson does take some time to find her feet. As one of the all-time great tragic heroines of opera she more than keeps up with the vocal demands of the role for the most part however her vibrato seemed uneven in places. She did seem to struggle with her acting in the first act and it is not until towards the middle of act two when she agrees to leave her lover that her acting abilities seem to flourish. Come act three however I will admit I had tears in my eyes. Richardson’s vulnerability in Violetta’s final decline was heart wrenching.

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The stand out performers in the piece were undoubtably Leonardo Capalboas Alfredo and Alan Opie as Giorgio. From the outset Capalbo’s Alfredo was charming and endearing, his vocal dexterity was full of the warmth you would expect from a tenor in this role. Whilst the chemistry between Richardson and Capalbo was, at first, missing a certain something this soon improved as the health of Violetta declined. As Alfredo’s father Giorgio, Alan Opie’s performance was emotive and his regret at his part of separating the lovers was spellbinding.

Conductor Simon Phillippo lead his orchestra through a wonderful performance of Verdi’s score and with the help of the chorus helped ensure the party scenes were effervescent .Special mention must go to Rebecca Afonwy-Jones and Philip Lloyd-Evans for their performances as Flora and the Marquis d’Obiginy for ensuring the party was full of spirit.

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Emma van Kooperen

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