Opera thrives on passion and a good story. When the singers appear, we expect them to lay everything bare and convince us that we have been transported to their time and place, we want to feel their emotion and be touched. If the feeling only lasts while we’re at the theatre, that’s good, at least we’ve felt something. But if we carry that feeling outside of the theatre, then you know you’ve experienced something rare.
Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata, like so many operatic love stories, ends in tragedy. Director Arin Arbus has blessed audience goers at the Canadian Opera Company by casting real-life married couple Charles Castronovo as Alfredo Germont and Ekaterina Siurina as Violetta Valéri—the Traviata of the title. It’s not hard to imagine then, that the passion we see on stage is in fact as genuine as it comes across.
Traviata translates to ‘fallen woman,’ but to label French Courtesan Violetta a prostitute would be oversimplifying her character, and birthed from a chauvinistic mode of thinking. A part of the demimonde, she belongs to a society of women who act, essentially as escorts to powerful men. Siurina as Violetta is believable as an actor, and a highly capable soprano. It took her a little while to find her voice, and it didn’t always express the depths that it should, but when she sang Addio del passato in the final act, she soared.
Castronovo played a fine Alfredo, and just as his character’s interest in Violetta is pure, so was his voice. Alfredo is persistent in his love for her, and the depths of his emotion from love to anger and finally despair were portrayed through the tone and colour of his voice and his body language. When he held Violetta in his arms in Act III, the audience witnessed a deep love of husband for wife—lover for lover, and it was wonderfully touching.
Quinn Kelsey as Alfredo’s father Giorgio, is no stranger to the role, and he owned it from the moment he set foot on stage. He was precise in all the nuances that the character embodies. At first patronizing, you see and hear the disdain he feels toward Violetta, before witnessing a gentler man, as he attempts to comfort his son. Kelsey was genuine, soothing.
La Traviata is one of Verdi’s masterpieces, and each note was wonderfully brought to life by Marco Guidarini and his orchestra.
La Traviata is on stage now through November 6. For more information and tickets visit: coc.ca