Glyndebourne's La Traviata was simply beautiful
La Traviata: Review
It's Glyndebourne on Tour, it's on stage at Milton Keynes Theatre and it's La Traviata - what's not to like?
We're so lucky to be able to have access to world-class opera productions right on our doorstep, with Glyndebourne on Tour's regular visits to the city.
La Traviata, consistently rated as the most popular opera of all time, had its first performance last night, Tuesday - and it was wonderful.
There's a second performance at 7.15pm on Friday night, if you're able to catch it. And on Thursday there's a La Traviata: Behind the Curtain performance, exploring what opera is about and how it is put together, presented by well-known comedian Chris Addison.
Starring in the role of Violetta is Armenian soprano Mane Galoyan. According to the programme blurb, she has won numerous international competitions, and that comes as no surprise as she has a most beautiful voice, of extraordinary clarity and control. I was amazed at how quietly and yet apparently effortlessly she sang some of the demanding passages.
Not only does she sing the role of Violetta superbly, she also acts the part and looks absolutely beautiful. A truly special Violetta.
In a change of cast last night, she was partnered not by the Italian tenor Fabrizio Paesano as billed, but by the young Portuguese tenor Luis Gomes. I've been unable as yet to establish why the substitution was made - but the upshot was an absolute delight.
Gomes also has an outstanding voice and the sound partnership between the two leading voices, as well as the on-stage chemistry between the two leads, was simply gorgeous.
They were ably supported by baritone Noel Bouley as Germont and a versatile chorus. Also deserving a special mention was Claire Barnett-Jones as Violetta's maid Annina, attentively present during Violetta's soliloquies.
The staging was simple, spare and uncluttered, with the tone of the production recognising the darkness inherent in the storyline right from the outset.
And at the very end of the piece Violetta's tragic death was cleverly staged so as to be both moving and uplifting.
This season of Glyndebourne on Tour also includes performances of Massenet's Cendrillon tonight, Wednesday, and Saturday.