Bristol Hippodrome

 La traviata April 2014

Both visually and musically stunning the Welsh National Opera version of La traviata on Saturday night at The Hippodrome, Bristol, wowed its audience with its haunting and dramatic performance.

In parts more melancholy than melodrama this marvellous and passionate interpretation of Giuseppe Verdi’s love story set in France in the late 1850s received rapturous applause from a packed house.

In the beginning it is all singing and dancing against a striking dark blue and black backdrop lit by candelabras and draped in silk and satin where a gauche young man and a professional party girl find love.

But towards the end a hushed auditorium is gripped with reflective emotion fearing the worse.

An impassioned Bristol fan shouts out ‘beautiful’ as the heroine lay dying in her Paris bedroom.

It gave you goose bumps.

If WNO is hopeful of making opera accessible to the masses it is certainly succeeding and no-one minded too much as apart from the above outburst some people clapped in the wrong places!

This is a story of a lovelorn young man who wins the hand of a consumptive courtesan only for his father to veto the ‘unsuitable’ relationship.

According to the programme this is a art mirroring life as Verdi had a live-in lover considered by small town folks to be a ‘loose woman’.

Retired Nailsea head teacher Richard Brock said: “What a stunning performance – WNO at its best – a terrific production.

“WNO gave the full range of emotions with total conviction; ecstatic euphoria, trials, tribulations, and heart-rending anguish.

“Linda Richardson, as Violetta, was supreme and the

absolute star amongst a cast of stars.

“Her final ovation was justly deserved, as the audience loved with her and wept for her.

“The set was ingenious; the chorus infectious in their zest for life; the orchestra so outstanding it is difficult to identify any one section, except perhaps the first violins which presented their Act Three ‘solo’ to absolute perfection.

“If you only see one opera in your life see WNO’s La traviata.”

In a last minute programme change the role of Alfredo Germont, with whom Violetta finds true love was sung by talented South Korea tenor Ji-Min Park.

When first performed La traviata was considered a little racy as it offended the archaic morals of the time.

But in a more enlightened age it is just an 

elegant, old-fashioned tale of thwarted love.

WNO have been bringing opera to audiences in Bristol for more than 45 years, making their first visit to the Bristol Hippodrome back in 1968.

This was part of its Fallen Women tour which included Manon Lescaut on Friday. Its 180-strong company includes orchestra, chorus, technicians, principal singers, company management and administrative staff.

WNO will be back in Bristol in November for a four night run with Carmen, Moses in Egypt and William Tell – could you read that with singing the overture?

Me neither.

For full programme information and tickets click HERE.


Carol Deacon