My most favourite opera of all and the very first my mother saw in her teens, made for an extra special evening at The Grand in Leeds for Opera North’s epic operatic and most tragic love story, La traviata.
This was most fortunately, the second Saturday in a row that my mother and I ventured into the cold to enjoy a night at the opera.
Thank you Opera North for the kind invitations and please do check out my review of the enchanting The Marriage of Figaro on the blog too.
Director Alessandro Talevi and designer Madeleine Boyd (The Turn of the Screw, Don Giovanni) set Opera North’s first new production in 15 years in Belle Époque Paris for a tense, sat on the edge of your seat, moving, most tearful 2 1/2 hours, so please, if you are lucky enough to attend, take tissues.
Lots of tissues.
Photograph by Richard H Smith.
Those who follow my twitter account will most probably know that I cried several times throughout Saturday’s performance and even before the first interval too- such was the spectacle, passion and sheer chemistry between quite frankly the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen (a cross between Angelina Jolie and Jessie J) Anna Jeruc-Kopec, in the role of Violetta, and the dashing, truly sensational Ji-Min Park as Alfredo.
For those unfamiliar with the story, Violetta is a courtesan enjoying the Parisian high-life when to her surprise, she falls head over heels in love with the loyal and loving Alfredo and he with her.
Tragically though, she can’t escape her checkered past and when Alfredo’s father demands she leave his son and sacrifice her love for him, it breaks her heart, literally, leading to her death at the close of the piece.
Photo by Richard H Smith.
La traviatta is a classic tale of eternal, unconditional love that will touch and move you beyond words, with the lovers being reunited eventually in the final scene, late, but not too late, to reconfirm their love, before Violetta dies.
Photo by Richard H Smith.
The audience are taken on a powerful, emotive and, importantly cathartic journey with this piece -the Ancient Greeks passed a law that citizens (sexistly men only) had to visit the amphitheatres regularly so as to experience catharsis-to vicariously face their fears and overcome adversity via the characters, with the belief they would become a well rounded, happier person.
I’m might be biased (being originally Greek 😉 ) but I do believe the arts do this and more, they feed the soul, they nourish, and a true sign of a great opera (or any piece of drama for that matter) is that you were able for the duration to free yourself and shaymanistally appropriate the artists’ roles.
Time ceases to exist as you are transported across space, time and geography, following the characters every move- you fall in love with them as they do with one another, you feel, you change, and finally, you leave the theatre utterly transformed…
I believe Verdi composed the most heartfelt music of his career with this tense, profoundly touching masterpiece and sitting close enough to see the actors’ expressions, I can vouch that the thespians’ performances more than equalled their singing voices making this one of the most accomplished productions I’ve seen to date.
I must also mention the captivating costume design too which you can see above, from shimmering gold gowns to crimson backless dresses, I found myself coveting every single outfit change there was.
This pretty black A-line dress with orange belt and cropped jacket is elegant British style at its best, ideal occasionwear for a night at the opera that’s for sure.
…A beautiful dress I’m sure you’d agree, for a worthy, outstanding and most heartrending night to remember.