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Verdi’s La traviata from the German spa town of Baden-Baden is rather a disaster in tenor Rolando Villazón’s ghastly production. He had the idea of the characters inhabiting a circus – well, yes, one can see what he’s getting at – but then flogs it to death without developing it with any insight. At least it doesn’t go downhill, since it already starts at rock bottom. It’s very garish and wearing to look at, and provides no insights whatsoever. Violetta lurches onto the stage and we experience her story in flashback, her character mirrored by a trapeze artist. The hard-working cast cavorts and gurns in their hideous Day-Glo costumes. Pablo Heras-Casado doesn’t help matters with his over-emphatic conducting. The emotional outpouring of ‘Amami, Alfredo’ sounds more like Monterone’s curse upon Rigoletto. Olga Peretyatko has to negotiate her way through the mess, and she does so with conviction. Her soprano is supple and buoyant, but the role pushes her to her limits at times and her tone can become glassy. Despite her hard work she can’t build a tragic character: this is just the story of a pretty girl who coughs a lot and eventually keels over. Atalla Ayan is an excellent Alfredo, his tenor fresh, his presence youthful. Simone Piazzola’s fine baritone is effective, though his Germont is almost reduced to a statue by the production. Any stars awarded are for the valiant singers.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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