Soprano Stacey Alleaume is almost ethereal in a scintillating performance as Violetta Valery in Giuseppe Verdi’s fraught, emotion-charged, love story La Traviata (which translates to The Fallen Woman). Her pure voice reaches remarkable highs as she dominates the stage in a bravura showing.
Violetta is a Parisian courtesan and the life of every party. Recently returned from a stint in a sanatorium, where she has been treated for tuberculosis, she re-emerges by throwing another such event. But Violetta hasn’t known true love until she meets and is wooed by Alfredo Germont (Ho-Yoon Chung). She determines that she will leave her old life behind and start afresh with Alfredo.
Three months later, her past comes back to haunt her, when unbeknown to Alfredo she is visited by his father Giorgio (Mario Cassi). He prevails upon Violetta to break off the relationship because her “reputation” threatens family harmony, more specifically Alfredo’s sister’s hopes of marrying the man she loves. Reluctant though Violetta is to do so, she accedes to Giorgio’s wishes, leading to an ugly confrontation between her and an incensed Alfredo at a gambling party. Her health deteriorating, Giorgio later informs his son of Violetta’s selfless act and Alfredo rushes to Violetta’s bedside just in the nick of time.
While waxing lyrically about Alleaume’s grandeur, I should not overlook the strength of baritone Mario Cassi, who casts a long shadow, and tenor Ho-Yoon Chung. They breathe fire into the story. Verdi’s score, magnificently brought to life under the baton of conductor Renato Palumbo, leading Orchestra Victoria, is uplifting, moving and triumphant.
Michael Yeargan’s set designs are lavish. His party backdrops are opulence personified – resplendent with a chandelier, gold leaf architraves and curtaining, green and timber hues predominating. Sumptuous costuming by Peter J. Hall is perfectly complementary and serve to elevate the spectacle. This splendid, soaring production from director Elijah Moshinsky presents Opera Australia at its finest. La Traviata is playing at State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne until 28th May, 2022. For bookings, go to https://opera.org.au/productions/la-traviata-melbourne/
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- Handa Opera’s La Traviata – opera review
- Ernani (Opera Australia) – opera review
- Lohengrin (Opera Australia) – opera review
Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.