It’s an unbeatable combination — Elijah Moshinsky’s lavish period production with the glorious voice of the divine Nicole Car, whose Violetta wrings out every passionate nuance of Verdi’s magnificent score.
Car is joined on stage by the honey-voiced Ji-Min Park as Alfredo, her ineffectual lover. Visiting Ukrainian baritone Vitaliy Bilyy plays Alfredo’s father, the patriarch Giorgio Germont, whose harsh demand that Violetta surrenders her lover for the good name of the Germont family is assuaged only by Violetta’s imminent death.
This production really shows up the limitations of the stage, with the movements of the gypsy dancers confined to restricted spaces.
Nonetheless, both party scenes show off the large cast of Opera Australia and prove that Moshinsky can knit the chorus and principals into a highly coordinated and spectacular ensemble work.
Peter Hall’s costumes are visually spectacular in these scenes. Set designer Michael Yeargan creates gorgeous interiors and evocative exteriors against which the drama is played out, and lighting designer Nigel Levings works miracles, especially in the final scene, where Violetta lies dying in a bare room in which the only source of light streams in from the tall windows overlooking the street where the carnival is passing by in the early morning.
Italian conductor Andrea Licata understands instinctively how Verdi should be played, and it was terrific to see more of the orchestra after the completion of the renovations at the end of last year.
It is rare to see a whole audience jump to its feet in approbation as it did on the opening night last week. Tickets will sell out if you don’t get in quick for this fabulous production.
Until Mar 27. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point. $46-$348+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.opera.org.au
Reviewed by Irina Dunn.