To Glyndebourne for the Glyndebourne Touring Opera's La Traviata (***), a production first performed in the Glyndebourne Festival in 2014. Always a pleasure to go to Glyndebourne especially in such a gloriously sunny autumn (or is it still an Indian summer?). However on this occasion the visit was not entirely satisfactory due to aspects of the performance. Firstly the setting in, what I suppose is the 1950s judging by the furniture and fashion, doesn't really fit with the themes of offended nineteenth century morality which are essential to making the opera believable. Also the idea of having a bed to the right of the stage, visible through the curtain between acts, must have seemed a clever one. However the bed appears to be a single one, perhaps purchased from Beds R Us that morning - certainly not the kind of accommodation you would expect to be provided by a Parisian grande horizontale. And when it becomes Violetta's death bed in the third act its diminutive size is quite impractical, resulting in the two lovers having to say their last farewells on the cold hard stage floor. Indeed the direction in the final scene is awkward throughout. Another major difficulty results from a major cast change - I don't know how last minute. Italian tenor Emanuele D'Aguanno, who replaced Fabrizio Paesano as Violetta's lover Alfredo, a role he has sung four performances of in the production in the past. However he seemed (and probably was, under rehearsed, and wasn't really convincing in the role. He also appeared to be older and more careworn than American baritone Noel Bouley, who plays his father Georgio Germont. Bouley has a fine, rich Baritone voice. While his rather stiff acting style perhaps suited his suitably formal portrayal of the pompous and heartless father in Act II Scene 1, when he needs to show his remorse to Violetta in Act III he too fails to convince.
The undoubted star of the show is Armenian Soprano Mane Galoyan, as Violetta, who recently sang the same role at the Houston Grand Opera. In her case a purity of tone, ability to cope with the full vocal demands of the part, and considerable acting skills went a long way to saving the show. I look forward to seeing her in other, more successful, productions in the future. The chorus and dancers also helped, as did enthusiastic yet precise conducting from Christoph Altstaedt, and the excellent Glyndebourne Tour Orchestra were on good form. The production continues (with Luis Gomes as Alfredo) at Glyndebourne until November 3rd, and then visits Canterbury, Norwich, Woking and Milton Keynes.