Andrew's Opera was previously published at

10 January, 2007

Sydney La Traviata (are they in competition with the Met?!)

Sydney Opera House

Wednesday 10th January 2007

Violetta ValeryElvira Fatykhova
Alfredo GermontRosario La Spina
Giorgio GermontWarwick Fyfe
Baron DoupholShane Lawrencev
FloraDomenica Matthews
CondGiovanni Reggioli
DirectorElijah Moshinsky
DesignerMichael Yeargan

Dear Colleagues,

Just as the Met had a La Traviata revival in January, so too did Sydney. And the Sydney Moshinsky/Yeargan production proved an enjoyable outing indeed with several high points.

I thought the orchestral parts were as sensitively played as I have ever heard them whether live or on record. The prelude and third act introduction music were both taken rather more slowly than is traditional - to great benefit musically.

Miss Valery was played to perfection by Elvira Fatykhova. She imparted joy, vulnerability, anger and inanition very well. Looking beautiful in the first two acts, she was suitably morbid by the end. Her voice is large and well focussed yet she is able to use pianissimo to tasteful advantage. Her full-flight ‘Sempre libera’ included a full bodied exciting and sustained penultimate E flat.

Tenor Rosario La Spina started out weakly, I thought, seeming tentative and insecure. By the second act he had come into his own rather well, choosing not only to sing the cabaletta ‘O mio rimoso’, but ending on a stunning high C. I was told that he was thrown by a nasty case of sunstroke, a victim of Sydney's stop-start summer, perhaps. The duets were expressive and credible in my view. Also due to sing Calaf in the Parks Concert in the Domain this month, Mr La Spina is one busy singer. The opera company would be lost indeed without his unique tenor voice. One hopes he is practising his French with upcoming Hoffmann in the winter season.

Our papa Germont was Warwick Fyfe who has a very loud voice. He was a little stiff and failed to impart the warmth we normally expect. Yet the senior Germont character, like that of his son, is far from impeccable. His demands on the behaviour of others are rather high and he could be painted as something of a villain, intent on destroying others’ lives for his own vanity and family pride. So we had a 'Di Provenza' which 'worked' but was not warm and full, but rather dry and superficial, something like good quality advertising, and consistent with the rest of his unusual characterisation (the Germont you love to hate).

Flora, Baron, soloists, guests and orchestra were all just fine to my eye and ear.

The season to date has been packed out and opening night had summer VIPs en masse but without a guest of honour, unless Malcolm Turnbull, Bronwyn Bishop or the annual visitor Geoffery Robinson QC might step into such august shoes in the absence of Vice Royalty.

Comments by Andrew Byrne ..