To Glyndebourne for the last time in 2018. Two years ago the Glyndebourne tour put on, in addition to two operas, an evening of entertainment exploring opera in general and one of the two operas in particular (in 2016 Don Giovanni). I didn’t see it but it must have been a success as this year they repeated the exercise, this time about La Traviata. Glyndebourne is very fortunate in that one of its supporters (and an all round opera fan) is the comedian and actor Chris Addison. Mr. Addison, perhaps most famous for his role in the television political comedy The Thick of It, has recently been putting his love of opera to good use. In 2016 he appeared in a speaking role in the hilarious Royal Opera production of L’Etoile by Chabrier, and earlier this year he presented the inaugural Glyndebourne Opera Cup singing competition as well as giving his views in the television coverage of the final. With that c. v. who better to compere “La Traviata: behind the Curtain” ?
As well as much humorous banter from Addison, the evening included some memorable set pieces. Particularly good was a section where he introduced a series of illustrated operatic terms sung by two of the leading singers in the 2018 tour production. Noel Bouley who sang the role of Georgio Germont was now much more relaxed than when I saw him on 15th October, and Nico Darmanian (originally booked to play his son Alfredo) deployed his rich Italianate tenor. They made a very humorous double act. Another inspired idea was to interview the wardrobe department and have a quick change “beat the clock” competition.
A very enjoyable evening (****) closed with some highlights of the 2018 production, giving your man another chance to relish the sublime soprano voice of Maria Bochmanova as Violetta. I for one will be keen to attend if Glyndebourne put on another “Behind the Curtain” in 2020.