Every word counts

La Traviata at Soho Theatre, London

By Peter J Pullan

After having enjoyed the productions of ‘La Boheme’ and ‘Tosca’ from OperaUpClose, I was keen to see their latest production of ‘La Traviata’ and I was not disappointed. Set in the 1920’s with impressive set and costumes, the production captured the hypocrisy of the ‘respectable’ classes and the sadness of the ‘fallen woman’ Violetta and her chance of love with the young Alfredo. It was a shock in this production to see Alfredo’s father enjoying the initial party scene, emphasising the hypocrisy, rather than the more usual straight-laced, non-partying father we see in conventional productions. There were apparently three different casts and the captioned performance had a wonderful cast with some fine singing from everyone including Elinor Jane Moran as Violetta, Philip Lee as Alfredo and Andrew Mayor as Germont plus some sensitive playing from the musicians. I was thrilled to find Violetta taking the high note at the end of her Act One aria, an option that many more renowned sopranos don’t risk.

The English translation did not always work for me; it sometimes seemed mundane or clumsy. I’ve seen other productions in English using more poetical and sensitive language but thanks to the captions I could follow and, since the timing was accurate, actually hear the voices beautifully. Without the captions, even knowing the opera as well as I do, my hearing loss would not have allowed me to follow much at all.

It was a performance that everyone in the audience, with or without good hearing, thoroughly enjoyed as the rapturous applause and cheering at the end testified. I look forward to next year’s OperaUpClose production.

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The Arts Council
The Arts Council
The Arts Council