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La Traviata a la Twenties

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Verdi’s La Traviata
Opera Company of Philadelphia
Academy of Music
May 7-16, 2010M
Airs May 10

A silver mirror dominates the Robert Driver, Paul Shortt staging of La Traviata being revived at the Academy of Music through Sunday (5/16). The Opera company of Philadelphia’s La Traviata has a twist: this season the Verdi is bumped up to the 1920s. Richard St. Clair’s costumes have more Deco than flapper glamour and the principals making their debut in this cast wear them very well. Leah Patridge is Violetta. Charles Castronovo, her Alfredo. (Baritone Mark Stone makes a superb Girgio Germont).

I prefer the tenor voice, which is warm and expressive to the soprano’s, which is cooler. Both singers act well. Patridge has the ringing top notes; the coloratura isn’t always secure of pitch as it consistently sturdy. Her stamina is remarkable. Violetta may be consumptive but those high notes are torpedos.

The good thing about this staging: La Traviata is concise, no clutter, a problem of Driver’s in the past. The men are directed with sensitivity. Alfredo’s interactions with Violetta early and late are beautiful; so are the interactions between the father and son Germonts. Alfredo’s first toast is handled like a real toast and the character also shows more remorse than we usually witness after the card scene. This is good direction.

Dancers from the Miro Company show their stuff at Flora’s too.

For the death scene, the mirror looks a loft out of Baz Luhrmann – have we’ve wandered into La Boheme ?– but not to quibble – the set works.

Nice change, no coughs from this Violetta, the audience supplied them.

Music Director Corrado Rovaris keeps the pit band flowing without intruding on the singers while allowing the mystique. La Traviata at the Academy of Music until May 16.

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