Last week I went along to the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton for the opening night of La Traviata, performed by the Welsh National Opera. La Traviata, one of Verdi’s classics, is the story of Alfredo and Violetta and their tortured love. It encompasses a range of topics – love, gambling, illness, death and the life of a courtesan, and grips you from the very first note.
La Traviata was sung in Italian, with English surtitles above the stage. The show was split into four acts, with two intervals, and I enjoyed the slightly different format compared to a traditional musical. The opening music was emotive and beautiful, and the different sets added to each act perfectly.
I’m not normally an opera goer – in fact, this is the first time I’ve seen one in around ten years – but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the performance of La Traviata. I find that most people think of opera as being very loud, with strange singing that’s not to everyones tastes – but if you think of the voices of the opera singers as an extension of the orchestra’s instruments, you will enjoy the opera much more! It’s much less about the actual singing, and more about how the music can tell a story and bring the emotions and characters of the singers to life.
The story of La Traviata follows Alfredo and Violetta’s love and is set in Paris. Alfredo falls in love with Violetta, a courtesan who frequently throws extravagant parties and entertains her fellow courtesan friends and their guests. A key part of the story is Violetta’s illness, which sees her suffer extreme coughing fits and ultimately results in her untimely death. Alfredo’s father, Germont, disapproves of their love and insists that Violetta leaves Alfredo for the good of his family.
When Alfredo discovers Violetta has left him to return to her old life and ways, he is beside himself with grief and confronts her at a party – throwing money at her that he won through gambling and telling her that his debt with her is settled. Throughout this time, Violetta remains in love with Alfredo, with her illness steadily growing worse.
The story ends with Alfredo and Violetta reuniting, but sadly too late as Violetta dies in Alfredo’s arms. The story of La Traviata is a tragic one, the story of a thwarted love that is seemly doomed from the beginning of the show due to Violetta’s illness.
I really enjoyed the story and the music, and my favourite parts of the opera were the orchestra’s fantastic music and the costumes of the singers and dancers – especially the dresses in the above photo!
La Traviata was only at the Mayflower for three nights, but if you do get the opportunity to see the show I’d recommend going – even if opera isn’t necessarily your usual thing! The Welsh National Opera put on a fantastic performance, and I’d also recommend seeing any of their other performances.
*I was invited along to La Traviata at the Mayflower Theatre in exchange for a review, but all views are my own*