Veteran director Richard Eyre, once again, manages to captivate audiences with his spectacular re-imagining of Verdi’s classic, La Traviata. Celebrating its 25th year at the Royal Opera House, this season will see 20 performances of La Traviata.
Designer Bob Crowley’s set is nothing short of phenomenal: he manages to transport protagonist Violetta (Hrachuhi Bassenz) from regal and irreverent gold and crimson gambling scenes, to the innermost sanctuary of her bedroom, highlighting the turmoil of Violetta’s despair at times with help of lighting designer Jean Kalman’s ingenious play on light. Similarly, Crowley’s vision of Alfredo’s (Liparit Avetisyan) country home gives the audience a sense of ease, mirroring a kind of musical pathetic fallacy from Verdi’s score.
Conductor Daniel Oren skillfully glides the orchestra through Verdi’s emotional roller-coaster of an opera. Embracing the drama, the orchestra surges in volume for rowdier, full-bodied action; and languidly caresses the delicate score that represents the demise of Violetta’s health.
The two leading protagonists, Alfredo and Violetta, match each other, as if united in their Armenian heritage. Hrachuchi Bassenz’s role as a leading soprano is cemented in this performance, which shows remarkably delicate pianissimos (evident in “Damni tu forza o cieolo”) , an effortlessly strong technique and control of voice, and a mastery of emotion driving each and every aria and duet.
Liparit Avetisyan’s performance was similarly robust, exhibiting a mellifluous, honey-toned quality of voice in his tenor performance. Lovelorn and ardent, Avetisyan’s control of emotion and technique is marvellous, constantly reminding the audience of the incredible balancing act between opera and theatre that this opera demands.
Special mention must also go to Alfredo’s father, Giorgio Germont, played by baritone Simon Keenlyside. From the impetuous to the humbled, Keenlyside short performances are rendered all the more impressive for the sincerity of emotion and vivid characterisation. His character demands no sympathy from the audience, and therein lies his strength.