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Review: Opera North performs La traviata at Nottingham Theatre Royal

Emotions run high in the principal work performed in Opera North’s autumn season programme at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham.

The company chose one of the most popular operas of all time, Verdi’s La traviata, for its opening performance on Tuesday, and will repeat it tonight and tomorrow. It is one of three works being staged at the theatre this week.

Last night, was a concert staging of Gluck’s 1762 opera Orfeo ed Euridice. Tomorrow evening it will perform its new take on Monteverdi’s opera Orpheus.

Opera North performs La Traviata. (60341904)
Opera North performs La Traviata. (60341904)

But to return to La traviata. The story unfolds in the ball-rooms and bedrooms of 19th Century Parisian high society,

Feted courtesan Violetta falls in love with the naïve young Alfredo and, weary of her glittering but shallow existence, decides to leave it for a new life with him, but her past life catches up with her, and she is made to sacrifice what may be her only chance of real love.

Alessandro Talevi directed Alison Langer in the role of Violetta on Tuesday, and she will sing it again on Friday, with Máire Flavin tomorrow.

With La traviata having some of the most memorable melodies in opera, including Sempre libera and the rousing drinking song Brindisi, it can be tricky for a new production to bring freshness without losing the heart of the piece.

But Opera North gets the balance just right.

Alison Langer strikes the perfect tone as Violetta, soar-ing sublimely through every range of emotions. She is matched vocally, if not entirely in presence, by Nico Darmanin as Alfredo, and Damiano Selreno is touching as his father.

Sparse but evocative staging by Madeleine Boyd allows the singers and music to shine. The use of a huge circle on the backcloth to portray, variously, an eye, the moon and an ominous lung scan, is inspired.

The Opera North orchestra, conducted by Jonathan Webb, is wonderful, as ever, luxuriating in the Verdi’s beautiful score. All in all, a thrilling and moving production. ­— JJ

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