Sunday, 30 April 2017

Giuseppe Verdi, La Traviata - Bayerische Staatsoper, Nationaltheater

Performance 26th April

After the Tristan debacle earlier this month I went to see Verdi’s adaptation of Dumas‘ Dame aux camelies known as La Traviata. An opera that is widely known and is played regularly and the title role is probably the dream role of most dramatic coloratura sopranos. The performance at the Bayerische Staatsoper sounded pretty promising with famous soprano Sonya Yoncheva as Violetta, a role that she is widely known for.
The production by Günter Krämer is rather conservative and made a pretty boring and unexciting impression with few ideas that mostly were not elaborated appropriately. The costumes (Carlo Diappi) and the stage (Andreas Reinhardt)  might have been lovey to watch, but there was no drama taking place throughout the evening. I have never been less touched by a Traviata performance than this very evening and already during the prelude I felt genuinely bored.
Unfortunately not only the production itself, also the musical part of the evening did not really convince me the way I hoped it would. Conductor Andrea Battistoni (despite being Italian) lacked grace and real Italianità. He tried to convince with sheer power and loudness instead of deep knowledge of the score. Very often there were issues of timing (especially when the choir was onstage) and the worst thing was his extremely annoying humming. Even in the 15th row I could hear him hum along the score (though it sounded as if he hummed in another key). The Bayerisches Staatsorchester did a solid job and did its best. At some moments they were close to find the right Traviata tone, but Battistoni simply could not trigger the magic of the score. Despite of the mentioned timing issues the Chor der Bayerischen Staatsoper sounded refined and well balanced.
The many small roles (often only a small line) were cast appropriately and sometimes showed some interesting voices. I definitely want to mention Rachael Wilson as Flora and Kristof Klorek as Dr. Grenvil who both gave very good performances.
Leo Nucci, definitely a legend in the Italian repertoire, was singing the role of Giorgio Germont. Being a legend nowadays seems to make people believe that they shall go on singing no matter if they can actually deliver a role appropriately. Nucci might have been able to hit the notes (more or less), but there was no phrasing and simply no explainable reason why someone would still cast him. Interestingly also his Italian was absolutely not to understand (even if you knew what he should have been singing).
Arturo Chacón-Cruz also did not really stand a chance with this role. I can imagine that he might be a good choice for small houses, but the Nationaltheater in Munich is definitely way to big for his light tenor voice. Too often he had problems to be heard over the orchestra and simply could not deliver a convincing performance.
The star of the evening was Sonya Yoncheva as Violetta. Yoncheva’s voice sounded immensely powerful and filled the audience so easily that I was rather suspicious after the first act. However, in act two I realised that there is a normal reason for it. Most of the singing took place at the very fron of the stage and so no sound was lost onstage. Yoncheva gave a good performance with a strong voice and good phrasing, but altogether I missed the grace and lightness I would expect from a Violetta. Most of her singing was simply loud and in the final act she seemed to have some intonation issues in the upper register. Nevertheless it was a good performance, but maybe there is a bit much hype about her Violetta.
Alltogether it was definitely better than the dreadful Tristan lately, but still not absolutely convincing. I left the performance without sheding a single tear and therefor there will only be 8 stars for this Traviata.
Reviewed by Daniel Url

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