|Stacey Alleaume as Violetta Valery in "La Traviata"
Based on an original production by Francesca Zambello
Brian Castles-Onion – Directed by Constantine Costi
by Shannon Burns.
by Brian Thomson – Costumes designed by Tess Schofield
designed by John Rayment – Sound Designed by Des O’Neill
Opera Australia. March 26th – April 25th
night performance reviewed by Bill Stephens.
director Francesca Zambello and designers Brian Thomson and Tess Schofield
conceived their 1950’s vision of “La Traviata” for the inaugural Handa Opera on
Sydney Harbour in 2012, they created a benchmark for a succession of open-air opera
productions that have pushed boundaries for the presentation of outdoor opera.
As a result the annual Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour productions have become
International destination events.
Constantine Costi, has brilliantly reworked this production for the 2021
season, taking advantage of lessons learned from subsequent productions to up
the ante on the visual and emotional aspects of what was always a spectacular
Thomson’s remarkable sloping silver-mirror stage setting, dominated by the huge crystal chandelier that
will later allow Violetta to soar high above the audience during her triumphant “Sempre Libera”, now sports a silhouette of the 1950’s Paris skyline which changes
colour to match the mood of each scene.
exuberant, strikingly musical choreography, devised by Shannon Burns for her
twenty dancers, creates immediate impact as
the white tuxedos and bouffant skirts of Tess Schofield’s elegant La
Dolce Vita inspired costumes swirl in giddy abandon as Violetta (Stacey
Alleaume) quietly surveys the party
already in progress during Verdi’s sumptuous
|The dancers in the Act 11 of the HOSH production of "La Traviata"
Alfredo (Rame Lahaj) confronts Violetta in the casino, the decadence of the
life to which she has returned is emphasised with a spectacular floorshow for
which the dancers are costumed in lurid matador outfits while the rest of the
guests wear fancy dress and waiters spray champagne into the audience.
is just as successful with the more intimate scenes where his use of an
oversized silver couch to focus attention for his staging of Georgio Germont’s
(Michael Honeyman) confrontation with Violetta, and his staging around the
black satin draped bed for Violetta’s death scene is masterly, although his
failure to provide a more inventive solution for the lack of a front curtain
for the very final moments of the opera was a disappointment. Simply
having Violetta get out of her deathbed
and walk off stage in full view at the end of the opera was clumsy and broke
the carefully crafted spell.
|Stacey Alleaume (Violetta) - Rame Lahaj (Alfredo)
glamorous courtesan, Violetta Valery, Stacey Alleaume gives the performance of
her career. Every inch the glamorous
courtesan, Alleaume occupies the vast stage with impressive authority. Her singing
is confident, secure and thrilling throughout, as is her acting, particularly
during her confrontation with Germont, and in her final deathbed scene with
Dark and handsome, Rame Lahaj brings a fine voice and considerable presence to the role of the besotted Alfredo Germont. Both vocally and physically he and Alleaume are well matched, and offer captivating portrayals of the chemistry and tensions between the two lovers.
|Andrew Moran (Marquis D'Obigny) - Celeste Haworth (Flora Bervoix)
Alexander Sefton (Baron Douphol
Honeyman adds another fine portrayal to his already impressive repertoire with his
rather reserved interpretation of Alfredo’s dignified father Georgio Germont.
Alexander Sefton is suitably menacing as Violetta’s brooding former lover,
Baron Douphol. Celeste Haworth as the
flamboyant dominatrix Flora Bervoix,
Andrew Moran as her partner-in- crime
Marquis D’Obigny, and John Longmuir as Alfredo’s friend Gastone, all make the most of their
opportunities, while Danita Weatherstone
as Violetta’s faithful servant Annina, and
Gennadi Dubinsky as Doctor Grenvil, both provide strong, well sung performances
in minor roles.
|Stacey Alleaume as Violetta Valery
Particularly impressive with this production is the success of John Rayment’s superb lighting design in focussing the audience attention and creating memorable visual moments, while the superb clarity of Des O’Neill’s stunning sound design captures with superb clarity the full beauty of each singer’s voice, even making it possible to savour the instrumental nuances achieved by the musicians of Brian Castles-Onion’s superb orchestra in interpreting Verdi’s glorious score.
Photos by Prudence Upton.
This review also appears in AUSTRALIAN ARTS REVIEW. www.artsreview.com.au