La Traviata review at Theatre Royal, Glasgow – ‘a lavish revival’
Staged on Tanya McCallin’s lavish funereal set, David McVicar’s production of La Traviata, revived by Marie Lambert, gets straight to the tragedy of the courtesan Violetta.
Given that the production plays out on Violetta’s tombstone, the tone is suitably sombre – but Lambert knows how to make it fly. In the opening party scene, every element serves the storytelling. The party-goers are literally dancing on Violetta’s grave.
Gulnara Shafigullina plays Violetta as a dead woman walking. Clearly aware of her impending death, she barely engages with her guests. Her rich full voice seems to agree, holding back on the high notes in a way that she never does once she has reached the county with Alfredo.
Violetta’s true tragedy, presented via Alfredo’s memory of events, is not so much her demise but the fact that she never finds a man who does not put himself first.
With his round tones, Peter Gijsbertsen’s Alfredo crows about the purity of their love, but when it comes to loss and regret, he makes it all about his sorrow. Stephen Gadd’s commanding Giorgio Germont, meanwhile, oozes self-importance.
It is a reading which, combined with such punctilious attention to the characterisation – and a deliciously salacious Spanish dance in Flora’s party – makes the impeccably paced final scene all the more heart-rending.