BWW Review: TRAVIATA at Opera WROCLAW - Feel The Breath Of The Universe
Have you ever wandered why two cheesecakes based on one recipe are slightly different? Even tough you use the same flour, sugar and cheese the taste is not the same. Sometimes it's better, sometimes it's worse. But if you take great ingredients like Traviata, big budget, good voices, Grazyna Szapolowska as director it cannot be bad, correct? You are right! It cannot be!
This is well known opera based on Alexander Dumas fils La Dame aux camellias from 19th century shown in the worldwide scenes of theaters and one of the the most frequently performed of all operas, with 151 visions in the 2018/2019 season. It's a story about Violetta (amazing Edyta Piasecka), Parisian courtesan, taking from life as much as she can, despite her illness. She's very popular and wanted in French high society. One day, she mets Alfredo (Andrzej Lampert) crazy in love with her. She lets herself go and soon falls in love with him leaving her former life behind - despite all her desire clouds comes to her paradise and under pressure of Alfredo's father, Giorgio Germont (Adam Kruszewski), she decides to broke up with him for good of his family. Alfredo gets mad and humiliates her at the first occasion - after that he comes to his mind (everybody eventually do) but it's too late.
I would lie if I say that it's impossible to muck up this piece of art - Verdi did it by himself and its first premiere was a failure - partly because of bad singers, slightly because his public wasn't prepared to see a courtesan in an opera. But he was quite sure what he's doing and after few changes it was a hit.
It still is, especially when then is Grazyna Szapolowska in charge. This play is not a cheesecake, it's a pavlova meringue - sweet, elegant and exquisite. With every bite you get a new portion of grace. I love it!
It's chic, not too modern, not fashionable in a forcible way. Her vision is timeless but not obsolete. Costumes are beautiful and scenography with gambling concept is impressive (both made by Ewa Kochanska). There are interesting motives as well - like blindness and pureness coming with little girl - could be read in so many different ways - I will let you discover them by yourself.
We have splendor, glamour, tinsel society reaching for pleasures and superficial. Can there be a place for a real love? It's not an optimistic piece (even though there are a lot of catchy, dynamic numbers), there is a place for doubt, pain, hopelessness, weakness but also pride, nobleness and generosity. All those emotions and affections wear sequins, feathers, fringes along with velvet. It's really pleasant and easy to watch. Intimates scenes are mixed with group scenes including choir and dance ensemble. It's dynamic and smells like luxury. The only minus for me was the last scene. I had impression that there wasn't enough of effort to finish it with glace. That was the only moment with lack of consistence, but still this play with all those beautiful voices (specially Violetta's) get from me a big YES.
If you want to start with opera but you're afraid of it - that's a great opportunity to acclimate with this genre, and feel that love is the breath of the universe as they sung.
The play is adapted for scene this fall from June's Superproduction.
Photo: Magda Hueckel