Opera Scotland

Traviata 2017Scottish Opera

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Return of a fine production

A real treat was provided by this 2017 run. This was an excellent Traviata staging at its launch back in 2008, and has since been seen at the homes of the co-producers - Cardiff (including WNO's tour), Barcelona and Madrid. It was good to see it again. Tanya McCallin's designs still look elegantly simple, with emphasis on the costumes, and the lightng was fine. In most respects the staging came up well, though the chorus activity in the parties and the dances in the second act at Flora's seem to have broadened a bit, lacking some of the subtlety and style of the original.

The cast for this revival brought in a number of new faces. David Parry is familiar, at least on record, as a conductor of Rossini, Donizetti and Mercadante, but less known as an exponent of Verdi. He drew some beautifully expressive playing from the pit. Stephen Gadd sang the part of Alfredo's father a few times some years ago, when he was rather younger, but now looks better suited to the part and gave a beautifully observed account of a man whose expectations are gradually overturned. Australian baritone Simon Thorpe has also appeared with the company a few times over the years and was strong casting as the Baron.

The important minor characters at the parties were well differentiated. James Platt, a recent Jette Parker player at the Royal Opera House, made his excellent debut as the Doctor, and Christopher Turner was an unusually mature Gaston - very much the life and soul. Three of the current Scottish Opera Emerging Artists also figured prominently as Flora (Laura Zigmantaite), Annina (Catherine Backhouse) and d'Obigny (Alex Otterburn).

Peter Gijsbertsen, a newcomer, made an excellent Alfredo, with an unusually detailed acting performance - youthful and gauche to begin with, already steaming drunk on his arrival at Flora', and forced to sober up rapidly. His lyrical voice has plenty of colour with a pleasing near-baritonal quality.

The fourth performance on 28 October, a Saturday evening, showed the whole company in fine fettle, and provided a first opportunity for Anush Hovhannisyan to take the title role. Hovhannisyan trained at the Conservatoire in Glasgow before joining the Jette Parker scheme at Covent Garden, and it was good to see  how she has developed. Hovhannisyan was already superb as a student and recently represented Armenia at Cardiff Singer of the World, reaching the final. This first scheduled appearance was timed to allow the first cast soprano a night off before singing Iolanta on Sunday afternoon, and she does three other evenings in the run. All that need be said is that this was a performance of astonishing maturity with no obvious difficulties either vocally or dramatically. She fitted into the ensemble with complete confidence. Violetta should remain a centrepiece of her repertoire for some time to come.

We took the opportunity of a Sunday matinee in Edinburgh (19 November) to make a second visit. This allowed us to catch Gulnara Shafigullina as Violetta. She had already sung this hugely challenging role at the Mariinsky. Her reception at the opening of this revival was generally enthusiastic, while she also made an excellent impression as Tchaikovsky's Iolanta. Shafigulina in particular gave a completely convincing vocal performance, and looked appropriately slender and elegant. The rest of the cast was unchanged.

Your reviewer, having seen many productions, has to place on record that he found this the most moving he could recall. A truly memorable occasion.

Performance DatesTraviata 2017

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

19 Oct, 19.15 22 Oct, 15.00 25 Oct, 19.15 28 Oct, 19.15 28 Nov, 19.15 30 Nov, 19.15 2 Dec, 19.15

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

2 Nov, 19.15 4 Nov, 19.15

Eden Court Theatre | Inverness

7 Nov, 19.15 9 Nov, 19.15 11 Nov, 19.15

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

15 Nov, 19.15 19 Nov, 15.00 21 Nov, 19.15 23 Nov, 19.15 25 Nov, 19.15

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