A production rich in gripping and unforgettable moments.
Along with "Rigoletto" and "Il Trovatore," Giuseppe Verdi's "La Traviata" belongs to the trio of immensely popular operas Verdi composed within two years in the early 1850s. Its paradox is that it is a large-scale work, with 11 soloists, chorus and full orchestra, yet also an intimate piece centering on three characters: Violetta, Alfredo and Giorgio. As such, it lends itself admirably to cinematic treatment, with long-shots fading into close-ups that underscore the work's subtle psychological moments.
In this production, the entire team has made the most of the work's cinematic potential while placing the emphasis on the chamber atmosphere. This is due above all to the concept guiding stage director Jürgen Flimm, set designer Erich Wonder and conductor Franz Welser-Möst. Flimm sketches the psychodrama of three highly contrasting characters – a story of love and renunciation that grips the viewer every second. The emotional triangle formed by Violetta and the two Germonts is also echoed by Erich Wonder's evocative set: a wall whose segments can be extended or closed in on themselves to form a triangle of its own.
In his musical interpretation, Welser-Möst also brings the work's intimacy into relief by conjuring up filigree string lines and transparent textures. As the consumptive courtesan who sacrifices herself after having briefly found love with the young Alfredo, world-famous Italian soprano Eva Mei movingly embodies Violetta's fragility, devotion and longings. Her slender, radiant voice glows with softness and vulnerability – the very opposite of a brassy demimondaine!
Piotr Beczala's Alfredo dazzles with lyricism and naturalness. As Germont père, Thomas Hampson spreads balsam with his velvety baritone even as he is sowing the seeds of destruction. Through Flimm's subtle direction and Welser-Möst's discreet accompaniment, Hampson and Mei rise to heights of emotional density in their central duet: here we literally see and hear Giorgio's cold-heartedness transform itself into warmth and admiration for Violetta's genuine nobility and pure love. It is the centerpiece of a production rich in gripping and unforgettable moments.