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Absurdly Melodramatic

MIKE WHEELER catches up with
a touring production of 'La Traviata'


Ellen Kent has carved a distinctive niche for herself by bringing opera and ballet companies from Eastern Europe over to tour the UK. Ukrainian National Orchestra of Odessa is currently on the road with its production of Verdi's La Traviata (Assembly Rooms, Derby, UK, 11 February 2008).

The publicity describes this as 'A spectacular traditional production'. Well I'm sorry, but spectacle is not what La Traviata is about. It is the most intimate of Verdi's mature operas, almost a chamber opera. So it was significant that this production only really came to life in Act 3, with no chorus and no party scenes to distract attention.

The Violetta, Maria Tonina, has a winning stage presence, but not a big voice, and it was the quiet, inward moments that she carried off most effectively. 'Ah, fors' e lui' was genuinely touching, and her portrayal of the dying Violetta in Act 3 was effective, apart from the moments when she was required to twirl about, waving her arms around in an absurdly melodramatic fashion.

Tenor Ruslan Zinevych has had good reviews for other dates on the current tour, so I can only assume he was having an off-night on this occasion. He frequently strained for top notes and was too often under pitch, even dragging Maria Tonina down with him in 'Parigi o Cara'.

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Copyright © 23 February 2008 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK


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