MALCOLM MILLER at
Ware Operatic Society's 'La Traviata'
Verdi's middle period operatic masterpieces such as La Traviata,
Il Trovatore and Rigoletto, have a musical and dramatic intensity
and veracity that gives them perennial appeal. Though staple repertoire
for major companies, they are less frequently attempted by semi-professional
groups, and it is to the credit of Ware Operatic Society that its recent
La Traviata was a worthy effort aspiring to professional standards.
I attended the last night, on 2 March 2002 at The Castle Hall, Hertford,
UK, conducted by musical director Christopher Tilbury, an active conductor
in Hertfordshire, a special treat due to the star performance by the soprano
Anya Szreter. Her superb, sparkling and sensitive Violetta displayed a vocal
shading that covered the whole gamut of expression this demanding role requires.
Of the two supporting protagonists, Germont pere, Glynn McKay, after a slightly
wavery start, gave a strong and nobly resonant account, especially in the
latter half of Act II and Act III. Though David Loxham as Alfredo had a
strong projection, both his voice and his stilted gait, seemed more attuned
to a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta than a serious Verdi tenor (the 'second'
cast featured Claire Marsden as Violetta, Robert Watson as Alfredo and Charles
Naylor as Germont's father).
Yvonne Harding's effective production, set in fin-de-siecle France,
displayed theatrical experience in its unfussy yet momentum-filled action.
Notably engaging were the economically staged Chorus scenes, which were
musically and dramatically persuasive, the singing crisp and fulsome, infused
with an enthusiasm that is the province of amateurs in the best sense, radiating
a love of the music. Costumes (by the Haslemere Wardrobe) and evocative
lighting (designed by Phil Hamilton) enhanced these scenes with glitter
-- red ball dresses and gold brocade uniforms in the opening banquet
party, blue ball dresses in Act II and festive masks in the Act II carnival
chorus from the side of the stage. In Act Two the Gypsy chorus was delightfully
portrayed, a circle dance of zest and complex choreography, gracefully complemented
by one of the supporting cast with a very clearly sung Matador song.
Copyright © 14 March 2002
Malcolm Miller, London, UK
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