La Traviata - Sydney Opera House Friday 3rd July 2015
Violetta - Lorina Gore
Alfredo - Rame Lahaj
Germont senior - José Carbó
Cond: Renato Palumbo
On going through my opera notes I found 14 reviews of this opera in as many years. Some were cast changes and some were in New York. One was on Sydney Harbour. I was not looking forward to yet another Traviata, especially in a production I had seen many times. The performance was underwhelming and I had decided not to write notes until I spoke to an old hand who pointed out that some of the singers just seemed to be mouthing the words and notes without knowing the drama and its sentiments. This applies especially to the tenor but also to the other roles to some extent. Indeed they sang all of the notes, even some unwritten ones. While comparisons are odorous, having heard Kiri Te Kanawa, Joan Sutherland, Regina Schorg, Joan Carden and other greats as Violetta in this same hall it is hard to say that Ms Gore is yet ready despite her marvelous talents.
Apart from the mid-level ‘loges’, the hall was almost full … but I noted a number of people who appeared to be on complimentary tickets … and some couples who also received free entries to the patrons’ lounge. Each of these potentially deprived the company of about $700 which in a normal company could be liable to Fringe Benefits Tax.
If it was your first, this opera performance might have been satisfactory yet for seasoned opera goers it was pedestrian. And the young singers are being pushed to do three performances of this enormous work each week, something I find criminal. I note that Turandot and Don Carlos with serious international casts are only being put on twice each week in their current seasons in Sydney. Grand opera is like marathon running and only the foolhardy, needy or greedy would deny performers adequate recovery time. Furthermore, the highly regarded baritone José Carbó is apparently being cast to sing Germont and Roderigo on successive nights!! This is a recipe for vocal disaster and implicates the company management in doing the opposite of what they are charged to do by their own charter, The Australia Council, good sense and tradition.
I say no more … but look forward to Don Carlos on Tuesday.
Notes by Andrew Byrne ..