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La Traviata review at Royal Opera House

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Two important cast changes do little to raise the overall temperature in what is essentially a dramatically disengaged revival of the popular romantic classic, though at least one of them provides an individual performance of some distinction.

This is the Alfredo of the Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja, who suggests the young man’s gaucheness and diffidence in the opening party scene and throughout the role adopts an appropriate stance and expression for each and every situation. His vocalism is of an altogether superior class. He shapes every phrase with care and imagination, and the sheer artistry of his singing, together with a most attractive natural set of vocal colours, draws the ear again and again. Covent Garden should plan a new production for Calleja, who is too important an artist merely to slot into revivals, and in a nominal second cast at that.

Anthony Michaels-Moore draws on his experience and solid voice for a Germont that is present and correct but dull. His anglicised Italian vowels are much in evidence. Both these principals, as well as Norah Amsellem’s vocally confident, dramatically uncharismatic Violetta would benefit from more incisive and detailed direction. Interaction between them is woefully limited.

As on the first night, the smaller roles are good, though at Covent Garden one expects the best. Those registering most positively are Jeremy White’s Marquis d’Obigny, Robert Murray’s Gastone and Gillian Knight’s Annina. The rest are sketchily drawn.

Production Information

Royal Opera House, January 31-February 15

Composer
Giuseppe Verdi
Director
Richard Eyre, Patrick Young
Producer
Royal Opera
Cast includes
Norah Amsellem, Joseph Calleja, Anthony Michaels-Moore
Running time
3hrs 20mins

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