|Sonya Yoncheva - Verdi's La Traviata - Metropolitan Opera (photo Marty Sohl | Metropolitan Opera)|
Reviewed by Anthony Evans on Mar 11 2017
A dramatically focused and thrillingly sung Traviata
|Michael Fabiano - (photo Marty Sohl | Metropolitan Opera)|
As we took our seats there was already a live link to the Metropolitan Opera auditorium where the familiar hum of an expectant audience was audible. The stage was a sparse monochrome. What appeared to be a Cinerama screen dominated the stage. In retrospect, I fancifully imagine this might be the bevelled edge of a time piece. Stage left sat a large clock and a shadowy figure who ominously loomed over the remainder of the proceedings.
I confess to being ambivalent about live opera broadcasts. On-stage noise can be distracting and close-ups unforgiving, not something you’d be too concerned about if you were in the auditorium. On the obverse you see little touches that you wouldn’t stand a chance of seeing from any vantage point in a theatre.
|Sonya Yoncheva - (photo Marty Sohl | Metropolitan Opera)|
I’m an admirer of Sonya Yoncheva having seen her in the Royal Opera’s Norma (see our review on this blog) and she didn't disappoint. Technically she has what this role requires in spades and then some. I kept expecting the close-ups to reveal the effort that this takes but her seamless legato and luxuriant tone looked effortless. She produced a thrilling portrait of a lamb sacrificed on the altar of patrician hypocrisy.
Michael Fabiano had a diffident start and appeared anxious not to take his eyes from the pit. Unfortunately he is not one of life’s natural movers and seemed to be wearing somebody else’s underwear for the first act. It may well have been nerves but it was distracting in close up. Despite this he has the sort of thrilling silvery tone that made my ears ring and he was a perfect match for Violetta. Their onstage chemistry was charming. A pity that the tempi were a little too leaden for my taste.
Placing the interval after Act 1 allowed the remainder of the tragedy to unfurl seamlessly. The country house was draped with vivid flowered coverlets, the clock partially concealed. Michael Fabiano now looking and sounding a little more relaxed thrilled in “De’ miei bollenti spiriti”. Violetta and Alfredo played a poignant game of hide and seek; Violetta’s feet poking teasingly from beneath the covers.
Whilst Thomas Hampson is still a charismatic stage presence his Germont seemed particularly effortful next to Sonya Yoncheva’s intoxicationg performance. Worn down by Germont’s bullying Violetta removes the cover from the clock. “Ah! Dite alla giovine” was heartbreaking.
With the reappearance of the shadowy man in Act 3 we came full circle; he was revealed as Dr Grenvil deadpanning “…non le accorda che poche ore”. Violetta’s humiliation by Alfredo, watched over by a menacing Germont from the top of the cyclorama was brutal. The lovers voices now soaring to the final bars, by “Addio del passsato” there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. The audience in the theatre and in the cinema just lapped it up.
|Michael Fabiano, Sonya Yoncheva - Verdi's La Traviata - Metropolitan Opera (photo Marty Sohl | Metropolitan Opera)|
Reviewed by Anthony Evans
Verdi - La Traviata
Barbican : Met Opera Live in HD
Saturday 11 March 5.55pm, Cinema 1
Director: Willy Decker
Designer: Wolfgang Gussman
Lighting: Hans Toelstede
Choreography: Athol Farmer
Doctor Grenvil: James Courtney
Violetta Valéry: Sonya Yoncheva
Marquis d’Obigny: Jeff Mattsey
Flora Bervoix: Rebecca Jo Loeb
Baron Douphol: Dwayne Croft
Gastone/Vicomte de Ltorières: Scott Scully
Gentleman: Paul Corona
Alfredo: Michael Fabiano
Annina: Jane Bunnell
Giorgio Germont: Thomas Hampson
Giuseppe: Juhwan Lee
Messenge: Brandon Mayberry
Guest: Sam Meredith
abiano, Thomas Hampson
Conductor : Nicola Luisotti
Elsewhere on this blog:
- We're crowdfunding for Quickening, a disc of new settings of Rowan Williams, AE Housman, Ivor Gurney, Christina Rossetti by Robert Hugill coming out on the Navona Records label, please visit http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/quickening
- Intoxicating mix: ZRI's Schubert at the Red Hedghog - CD review
- Pointed delight: Gilbert & Sullivan's Patience from ETO
- Its heart in the right place: ETO's Tosca - Opera review
- Sacred and Profane: Netherlands Chamber Choir and Peter Dijkstra - Concert review
- Shedding light on a forgotten Romantic: Mehul's Uthal - CD review
- Sunday afternoon delights: I Musicanti at St John's Smith Square - concert review
- Mescaline, therapy & the Berlin Wall: rough for opera #15 - opera review
- Ancient and Modern: Carolyn Sampson and Matthew Wadsworth in Dowland, Britten, Goss, Purcell - concert review
- Imaginative & engaging: Tara Erraught at Rosenblatt Recitals - concert review
- Powerful and deeply felt: James MacMillan's Stabat Mater - CD review