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Now Ellen Kent, the energetic impresario who has already made her name touring groups from Latvia, Romania and the Odessans' near-neighbours from Chisinau, Moldova, drawing widescale audience acclaim, has come up with a lively British tour by the Ukrainian State Opera Company of Odessa, bringing both The Barber of Seville and La Traviata to dozens of venues around the United Kingdom. The La Traviata cast included two of her established Moldovan stars, Elena Gherman (who has been seen as Musetta in La Bohème and Liu in Turandot) and Petru Racovita (who made his name as Figaro, Escamillo in Carmen and Alfio in Cavalleria Rusticana). Each has become established, paradoxically, among the best known figures on the English operatic stage.

Yarema Skibinskiy

This was a Traviata of rather more tension and urgency than a marginally tired-looking Moldovan production seen a few years ago (albeit with performers of the calibre of Oxana Cobzeva in the title role). Yarema Skibinskiy (alternating with Odessa's music director, Vasyl Vasylenko) struck me as a conductor of striking sensitivity and intelligence, never overbearing, and following with an ear so acute that there was virtually no separation at all between pit and stage -- one of the hallmarks of operatic excellence.

Vasyl Navrotsky (left) and Leonyd Butenko

What's more, the choruses, both male and female, trained by Leonid Butenko, chorus master at Odessa for a quarter of a century and seemingly as fresh as ever, seemed well honed, on-cue and excellently tuned.

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Copyright © 27 June 2002 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK

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ELLEN KENT AND OPERA INTERNATIONAL

RODERIC DUNNETT'S REVIEW IN 'THE INDEPENDENT'

VERDI'S LIFE AND TIMES

 

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