12.08.2013

La Traviata Russian Style: La Scala Was Not Happy!

On December 7th, La Scala, probably the most famous opera house in the world, opened the gala season with Verdi's La Traviata sung by German soprano Diana Damrau, recently acclaimed at the Metropolitan Opera. The premiere was attended by Giorgio Napolitano, the Italian President and Jose Manuel Barroso, the EU Commission President. 

The voices were wondrous, Verdi's music magnificent, but Damrau missed her entrance in the second act (!) and the contemporary direction by Russian Dmitri Tcherniakov was heartily booed by the upper balconies. Actually the director, Daniele Gatti, got some boos too.

I wasn't there but watched it on ARTE TV's direct transmission and saw it all. Fascinating.

Here is a picture of the opening:



 Act I had some odd costumes, including Annina (Violetta's maid) jazzy bright red-haired, close cropped:


When it came to Act II, things became acutely bizarre, with the scene set in the kitchen of a country house that looked like a Russian datcha.  Alfredo (Violetta's lover, sung by Piotr Beczala) at various points is seen rolling dough for pizza and cutting vegetables for a minestrone, not a likely activity for a 19th century provincial bourgeois  whose unpleasant father is out to save him from the woman he loves, the unfortunate "traviata". The rush into punk explodes in Act III, with the Parisian party hosted by Flora who is inexplicably wearing a huge Indian headdress (why Indian, may one ask?)

A video of the performance can be seen on ARTE, click here.
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