Opera Scotland

Traviata 2018Ellen Kent Productions

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The spring 2018 tour by Opera and Ballet International, directed by Ellen Kent, consisted of three operas that are absolutely central to the modern repertoire - two by Verdi (Rigoletto, La traviata) and one by Puccini (Madama Butterfly). For reasons unknown, Rigoletto received far fewer performances, and none of them were in Scotland. The Glasgow dates were confirmed long after the performances in Edinburgh and Dundee (the latter only seeing the Puccini). In fact, it was only a couple of weeks after these performances that Scottish Opera announced its next season - with a long run of Rigoletto through October and November.

The performance on 29 March in Edinburgh was thoroughly enjoyable, while not perhaps as uniformly excellent as the previous visit. The huge spaces of the Playhouse can sometimes disperse atmosphere when the auditorium is not crowded, even when the audience is enthusiastic, as here. The Ukrainian conductor and orchestra gave a thoroughly idiomatic reading of this Verdi staple. The chorus seemed smaller in number than on previous visits, but threw themselves willingly into their activities in the party scenes.

No individual designers were credited, but director Ellen Kent used an imposing unit set from stock - perhaps the arena structure has been more appropriate in the visually grander works previously seen. However the only section when it seemed overpowering was the first scene of the second act, where Violetta's country hideaway ought to be more intimate. Perhaps more light and shade could have helped create atmosphere. Costumes for La traviata can be a fairly straighforward matter, as long as the period chosen is consistently applied. Here, Violetta's party seemed quite a classy event, with all the ladies in white. Flora's was an altogether more louche affair, with a range of bright colours giving appropriate contrast.

The singing, while not immaculate, was generally impressive. Alyona Kistenyova made an excellent Violetta, subtly acted. The singing from tenor and baritone was good enough to make it seem surprising that neither sang their second act cabalettas, after either 'Di miei bollenti spiriti' or 'Di provenza il mar'. When you have the company's regular Carmen and Amneris on stage it makes sense to double the very contrasted parts of Flora and Annina. Of the shorter roles, the gentle and concerned Doctor of Vadym Chernihovskyi stood out. 

Performance DatesTraviata 2018

Map List

Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow | Glasgow

27 Mar, 19.30

Playhouse Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

29 Mar, 19.30

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