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La Traviata - Opera News

February 05, 2011

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    February 05, 2011
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    Opera Carolina News

La Traviata - Opera News

A well cast La Traviata is invariably a crowd-pleaser, and Opera Carolina's production (seen Feb. 5) was no exception to that rule, as followed by Opera Carolina's general director, James Meena. The Opera Carolina Chorus contributed what it could, the Charlotte Symphony was a more than adequate pit band, and the overall music direction was in the capable hands of guest conductor Joel Revzen. The supporting roles were all well filled, though these parts are too marginal to make much impression. Still, Opera Carolina veterans such as Dan Boye (Baron Douphol) and John Fortson (Dr. Grenvil) were solid, and their colleagues were never less than effective.

The three principals, of course, carried the show. Mark Rucker's Germont was strongly sung. His voice is sonorous throughout his range, and his portrayal exhibited the vocal command necessary for the role. His acting was somewhat stolid, though Germont is not a terribly subtle character. One might have wanted a little more melting from sternness to compassion in the duet with Violetta, but still he was a figure of dignity and authority at all times.

Jonathan Boyd's Alfredo was acted with more nuance and just as well sung. He possesses a clear lyric tenor voice that is just right for this role, and he used it persuasively, caressing the tone in the more tender moments but displaying vocal metal when needed. It was a good thing the cabaletta of the Act II aria was not cut, since it provided him with one of his most audience-pleasing moments. All in all, this was a fine portrayal — and he looked the part, as well.

Boyd's excellent Alfredo was matched, and at times even surpassed, by Jennifer Black's Violetta. Her voice is not strikingly large, but her clear, well-placed production allowed her to project the nuances of her part throughout the house. Her agility was quite adequate for the pyrotechnics of Act I; but where she really shone was in the tender moments of the duet with Germont and especially the death scene of the last act.

The only miscalculations of the evening were moments in the staging of Kay Castaldo. For the most part, the production was traditional, and Castaldo moved the action along well. However, the preludes to the first and last acts — well played by the Charlotte Symphony under Revzen— were marred by the distracting extraneous pantomimes — the foreshadowed burial of Violetta (Act I) and the duel of Alfredo and the Baron (Act IV). Even worse was the dancer representing Death who hovered throughout the final act and swooped in to dance Violetta around as the chorus was singing about the Carnival offstage. And did we really need chorus men being chased around in their underwear by nubile ladies at Flora's party? Even so, the (mostly) well-conceived conventional staging — and the performances of the excellent three principals — added up to an enjoyable evening. spacer

By Luther Wade Opera News

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