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Fairly Yende and a glowing new manufacturing ship a ravishing La traviata at San Francisco Opera – Seen and Heard Worldwide

United States Verdi, La traviata: Soloists, Refrain and Orchestra of San Francisco Opera / Eun Solar Kim (conductor). Warfare Memorial Opera Home, San Francisco, 13.11.2022. (HS)

Fairly Yende (Violetta) and Jonathan Tetelman (Alfredo) © Corey Weaver

Director – Shawna Lucey
Manufacturing designer – Robert Innes Hopkins
Lighting – Michael Clark
Choreographer – John Heginbotham
Refrain director – John Keene

Violetta – Fairly Yende
Alfredo Germont – Jonathan Tetelman
Giorgio Germont – Simone Piazzola
Gastone – Edward Graves
Baron Douphol – Philip Skinner
Marchese d’Obigny – Timothy Murray
Physician Grenvil – Adam Lau
Flora – Taylor Raven
Annina – Elisa Sunshine

San Francisco Opera have rolled out a brand new manufacturing of Verdi’s La traviata and launched top-class singers to the corporate within the three major roles: South African soprano Fairly Yende, Chilean tenor Jonathan Tetelman and Italian baritone Simone Piazzola.

A fireplace alarm emptied the Warfare Memorial Opera Home twenty minutes earlier than the scheduled curtain, delaying the beginning by a half-hour (it was rapidly decided to be a false alarm). As soon as conductor Eun Solar Kim and the three debutants acquired began, the music caught fireplace, and every part unfolded engagingly in a colourful new manufacturing.

That is the second installment of the corporate’s initiative to create long-lasting units particularly designed to suit the Warfare Memorial stage for ‘legacy’ operas. The primary was Tosca, which debuted in 2018 and returned to open the 2021 season. Each are by director Shawna Lucey (a Broadway and opera veteran, just lately named basic director of Opera San José down the peninsula from San Francisco) and London-based designer Robert Innes Hopkins.

La traviata has extra pizzazz, though it nonetheless sits comfortably in a conventional model. It even reproduces the view from the Rue de Madeleine condominium occupied by the nineteenth-century girl  (Marie Duplessis) who was the mannequin for Marguerite Gautier, the heroine in Alexandre Dumas’s La Dame aux Camélias, who in flip was the inspiration for Verdi’s Violetta.

Houston-based Michael Clark’s lighting design made the manufacturing come to life visually. Noon brightness outdoors the trellised background in Violetta’s summer time dwelling in Act II turned to a burnished glow by early night and underlined Violetta’s darkening scenario subtly. The grays of pre-dawn in Act IV, the place Violetta lay gravely in poor health, picked up ‘daylight’ by way of the home windows when she believed, so briefly, that she was effectively once more.

The lighting additionally enhanced the daring colours of Flora’s louche social gathering that adopted the summer-home scene, offering a telling distinction with the relative simplicity of the earlier home location. Costume colours made the lead characters simple to identify in crowded scenes, and the women’ robes had been beautiful to behold.

Underneath Lucey’s course, everybody within the forged created distinct characters and interacted with a pleasant lack of artificiality. This was very true of Yende’s Violetta and her tragedy-destined relationship with Tetelman’s Alfredo. Element after element made issues really feel actual, and moments with Piazzola’s Germont took on the correct quantity of gravitas.

If crowd scenes generally might need benefited from higher visitors administration, there have been telling moments. One got here in Act II, Scene 2 (Flora’s social gathering), after Alfredo disgraced himself and humiliated Violetta by showering her along with his playing winnings. One after the other, the ladies indifferent themselves from their possessive male companions and surrounded Violetta in a quiet and efficient demonstration of feminine solidarity.

Girls encompass Violetta (Fairly Yende) after Alfredo insults her © Corey Weaver

Different particulars meshed particularly with the music. For one, as Alfredo ready to ship his toast on the Act I social gathering, he appeared deep in considered what to say. A gesture was timed to the sudden cease Verdi wrote into the music, a second that almost all productions don’t capitalize on. A small factor, however it added to a way that these had been actual individuals.

Vocally, Yende’s Violetta glowed with a ravishing sheen to her voice, and she or he communicated a beautiful vulnerability with seemingly easy performing. It was a distinctly human portrayal, enhanced by vocal nuances and welcome command of dynamics and delicate hesitations. If every now and then she slid up barely into excessive notes, the historically interpolated excessive E-flat on the finish of ‘Sempre libera’ rang out with startling readability, precisely what one needs from Violetta at that second.

Tetelman deployed a lyric tenor of fluidity and pinpoint readability that made his Alfredo enticing, and he put sufficient power into his excessive notes at a number of factors in thrilling duets to match Yende’s. Tall and lanky, along with his assured presence and sound, he at occasions jogged my memory of a younger Alfredo Kraus.

Piazzola performed Giorgio Germont (Alfredo’s father) within the standard stern tones, leavened by a beautiful vocal timbre and rock-solid musicality. That might have led to an outpouring of heat when the character sees Violetta’s despair at what he asks of her, however the voice, and the demeanor, hardly modified.

There have been no weak hyperlinks among the many remainder of the forged. Standouts included the energetic mezzo-soprano Taylor Raven as Flora, Violetta’s gal pal, and tenor Edward Graves as Gastone. This character is often a cypher, however right here was an actual presence, from the second he launched Alfredo to Violetta to when he tried to fend off the social catastrophe at Flora’s social gathering.

As Baron Douphol, Philip Skinner, a San Francisco Opera common, lent his wealthy bass-baritone and deftly confirmed an outdated man’s frustrations at shedding Violetta’s attentions. Bass Adam Lau created a sympathetic and smooth-voiced Physician Grenvil.

Eun Solar Kim continues to guide the corporate’s musical proceedings with uncanny consistency. Conducting her third opera in two months (beforehand John Adam’s new Antony and Cleopatra and Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites), she reestablished a knack for getting stylistically acceptable music out of the singers and the orchestra. Passionate love scenes reached thrilling climaxes, and offended clashes despatched off electrical musical flares. The ultimate scene, with Violetta’s loss of life, may have throbbed a bit extra, however it made its level.

As all the time, the refrain contributed a juicy sound and visible presence to the crowds in Acts I and II, and once more within the offstage hullabaloo outdoors Violetta’s condominium in Act III.

Harvey Steiman



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