Scottish Opera opens its 2017 /2018 season with Giuseppe Verdi’s masterpiece, La Traviata, and this flamboyant production brought to The Edinburgh Festival Theatre stage was simply a huge success for Scottish Opera in Edinburgh tonight, with an appreciative audience demanding many closing bows from the cast.
This production of La Traviata is a revival of the co-production with Welsh National Opera, Gran Teatre del Liceu and Teatro Real Madrid.
At times, watching this production is a bit like watching a French Impressionist painting come to life with everything beautifully staged and very good lighting (how easy it is to forget how important this is to a production). Everything about this production exudes luxury and style with impressive sets (look out for the very imaginative use of Violetta’s tombstone here), costumes and large cast of singers, dancers and actors to back up our operatic stars.
Violetta Valéry - Gulnara Shafigullina -
Alfredo Germont - Peter Gijsbertsen
Giorgio Germont - Stephen Gadd
Flora Bervoix - Laura Zigmantaite
Barone Douphol - Simon Thorpe
Gastone - Christopher Turner
Marchese D’Obigny - Alex Otterburn
Doctor Grenvil - James Platt
Annina - Catherine Backhouse
When it comes to doomed love, doomed women, tragedy and misfortune, nothing does it quite like opera can, and La Traviata’s Violetta is one of the great tragic figures of all time. What makes Violetta so special though is that she is a real person and not a caricature of a tragic figure. This is a woman who, knowing that she is dying, gives up the only life she knows to spend what time she has left with her one true love, and in doing so pays for that love both financially and morally with disastrous personal results. Gulnara Shafigullina is here an outstanding Violetta, and it is not simply the impressive vocal skills on display in this very demanding role, but the layers of emotion and vulnerability that Gulnara brings to her interpretation of this role; yes, this Violetta is tragic, but she also has enormous inner strength, even when faced with the most difficult of choices. This is someone on stage that we actually care about.
Like all great on stage love stories though, this one is only as good as the performers in the roles, and we have to believe that there is a connection between the two principal lovers, and Peter Gijsbertsen as Alfredo Germont is the other half to this story being the success that it is. The vocals are of course technically impressive, but more importantly there is real emotion in this performance as Alfredo goes through the full spectrum of human emotions on stage.
Taking a big part of this performance in what seemed like effortless strides is Stephen Gadd as Alfredo’s father Giorgio Germont . A wonderful performance here from Stephen full of power and a commanding on stage presence.
This production of La Traviata works on every level, but a few more people need some mentions here too.
Original Director Sir David McVicar (from the 2008 production)
Revival Director Marie Lambert
Set and costume design is by Tanya McCallin with Stephen Powles reviving Jennifer Tipton’s original lighting design.
And of course the wonderful music of Giuseppe Verdi and conductor David Parry tonight.
Review by Tom King