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La Traviata review at Royal Opera House London

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Richard Eyre’s traditional staging of Verdi’s opera is back for a series of performances dignified by the presence of Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, whose entrance in Act II as young Alfredo’s morally conventional father Giorgio Germont marks a rise in the evening’s emotional power. As expertly authoritative in his singing as he is impressive as an actor, he is by far the most focused and consistent of the three principals.

Up until then, Ermonela Jaho’s Violetta has proved able without really stamping her own personality distinctively on the evening. She plays too often to the front to engage with her fellow artists and lacks vocal charisma. But she gains conviction later on, building to a presentable death scene.

At her side, her fellow Romanian, tenor Saimir Pirgu, makes a likable Alfredo. His pleasant tone suggests the ingenue, and he’s a decent actor, though there’s more in the part than he currently discovers. Among the smaller roles Changhan Lim’s Marquis stands out for his vitality and Robert Lloyd’s Dr Grenvil for his sheer dignity.

But the 1994 staging remains a tepid affair, going through the regular Traviata motions without much in the way of specificity or insight. The parties seem respectably dull for the hectic and hedonistic Parisian demi-monde of the mid-19th century, with the chorus doing its duty unengaged. Yves Abel’s conducting is correct and disciplined, but lacks both the bigger picture and an observation of detail.

Production Information

Royal Opera House, London, May 11, 14, 19, 21, 24

Composer
Giuseppe Verdi
Director
Richard Eyre
Producer
Royal Opera
Cast includes
Ermonela Jaho, Saimir Pirgu, Dmitri Hvorostovsky
Running time
2hrs 45mins

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