19 November 2014
Reviewed by Louise Platt
I have seen a couple of operas before but this was my first experience of La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi. The show I review here was performed by the Glyndebourne Chorus who are currently on tour with this and two other operas. I was lucky enough to see it at Milton Keynes Theatre.
For anyone who is new to Milton Keynes Theatre, this is a great venue. The theatre is large and being modern the seating is well set out. There is a choice of bars and kiosks and plenty of toilets. Parking is easy especially in the evenings and the theatre is well signposted and easy to find in the centre of Milton Keynes.
I would not describe myself as an opera “buff” but I do love music and know some of the more popular scores. Giving my age away I am almost ashamed to say that my familiarity with La Traviata is in part thanks to my teenage obsession with the film Pretty Woman (for those who have never seen this film, it features this Opera!). But last night’s performance was the first time I had seen it in full.
The story told through the music is a timeless and accessible one. A (very) brief synopsis follows… The star of the show, Violetta, is a Courtesan whose health is failing. We watch as she falls in love with young Alfredo and chooses to leave Paris to live in the country with her lover. One day Alfredo’s father turns up and begs Violetta to leave Alfredo so that Alfredo’s sister’s impending marriage will not be threatened by the scandal of her brother and his mistress (Violetta). Violetta finally agrees and leaves her lover and when the lovers are finally reunited at the end, it is sadly too late as Violetta’s health has deteriorated further and she dies. We never know what is wrong with her but are led to believe that it is the result of a life of pleasure and indulgence.
This is a passionate and very tragic opera and it is easy to see why it is one of the most popular operas of all time. It translates very easily into the current day. Indeed how many people end up at some point in their lives with partners whom their parents disapprove of? It is quite remarkable to think that this score was first performed in Venice in 1853 and is still being enjoyed by audiences today.
The producers of this particular version were very keen not to present it in a specific era and I think they have achieved this. The costumes are extremely elegant and classic and although not modern as such my friend and I found ourselves drooling over some of the outfits! The scenery is simple and again elegant, never cluttered, so the focus is very much on the characters.
This performance is an Opera in three Acts which are presented in four scenes. The show runs for approximately two hours with a short interval. The songs are sung in Italian but there are subtitles on a small screen above the stage which I could not have done without.
The singing was exceptional and the music just perfect but then how could it be anything other than that with such talented performers and the live orchestra. I thoroughly enjoyed this performance. It was romantic and moving and I totally bought into the characters I was watching on the stage before me. I was gripped from start to finish and was surprised when the curtains went down at the interval as the time had passed so quickly.
I would recommend Glyndebourne’s La Traviata wholeheartedly. If you like music and want to see something that will move and inspire you then this is not to be missed.
Tickets cost from £28.90 to £64.90 (plus £2.85 transaction fee).
Glyndebourne’s La Traviata will be at the Milton Keynes theatre on 22 November 2014. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 8717652.
Milton Keynes Theatre, 500 Marlborough Gate, Milton Keynes, Bucks, MK9 3NZ