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La Traviata review at Coliseum London

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ENO’s new Traviata is part of its stated objective to renew its core repertory. But the objective should include improving on older productions. This new Traviata doesn’t.

This is Irish director’s Conall Morrison’s first opera, and his inexperience shows in a presentation in which the main characters have no depth or complexity, though Emma Bell’s Violetta possesses flair and shows signs of life, ironically, in Act III. Elsewhere her singing relies more on instinct than security, and she fails to engage.

Dwayne Jones steps in for an indisposed Rhys Meirion as Alfredo, and though his voice is occasionally beneath the notes and his acting brash, he makes a decent showing.

More solid vocally but no more dramatically achieved is James Westman as the elder Germont. Of the smaller roles, Anne Marie Gibbons as Flora and Donald Maxwell as Baron Douphol make their mark.

Moving the action to late 19th century Dublin is a fruitless exercise. The central image of Paris as the capital of sophisticated hedonism cannot be so easily discarded, and Germont’s objection to Violetta because she is a Protestant and his family Catholic is a nonsense. Worst of all is the new translation, which is one long string of cliches and fits the music awkwardly.

Joan O’Clery’s costumes are, however, sumptuous, and Francis O’Connor’s sets for the party scenes impressive, though the last act is a mess.

The evening’s best feature is Jonathan Darlington’s nuanced conducting, though it cannot redeem a misconceived, poorly executed concept.

Production Information

Coliseum, London, September 27-November 16

Conall Morrison
English National Opera
Cast includes
Emma Bell, Dwayne Jones, James Westman
Running time
2hrs 20mins

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