Jun 25, 2009

Traviata in Lyon with Jaho

La Traviata
Giuseppe Verdi
Opéra en quatre parties, 1853
Livret de Francesco Maria Piave d'après La Dame aux camélias d'Alexandre Dumas fils

Ermonela Jaho, Violetta Valéry
Edgaras Montvidas, Alfredo Germont
Lionel Lhote, Giorgio Germont

Orchestre et Chœurs de l'Opéra de Lyon
Alan Woodbridge, Chef des Chœurs
Gérard Korsten, Direction musicale

Klaus Michael Grüber, Mise en scène
Ellen Hammer, Collaboration artistique et réalisation de la mise en scène
Recréation - Coproduction initiale Théâtre du Châtelet, Opéra de Lyon
June 23 performance


First of all, I know it's not very elegant to criticize dead people, but the late Klaus Michael Grüber who directed the original run of this production in 1993, really was uninspired.

Think about a stage where all the characters are static, with for whatever reason a naked woman appearing in the first part, a ridiculous use of the stage (or non-use I should say), this would have be comical if I had been in the mood to close my eyes. Unfortunately I was not, but I came to the notion as the music was unfolding.
Neither of the singers were really able to act convincingly in this ghost of a production (bad joke intended). Jaho didn't really have the stamina to portray the dying Violetta and her performance lacked intensity and ardor. The others were even worse.

The conduction of Gérard Korsten was unoriginal at best - but you can't except much from someone who doesn't hear how vivid and vibrant Verdi's music is (or rather only sees one dimension to it). The real disaster though came from the pit: all sections of the orchestra were horrendous, at one time or another (another being a number between 5 and 6), and all the time altogether. I have never heard it sound so badly in the years I've regularly attended performances at the Opéra de Lyon. This was an embarrassing nightmare really, but the audience loudly cheering the orchestra at the end must have been even worse. How bad are your ears people, seriously?
Lionel Lhote as Giorgio Germont was decent, but his voice quietly worsened during the performance.  

Edgaras Montvidas as Alfredo has still a lot of work to do to polish his sound and clear his timbre. But he displayed interesting and lifeful colours and emotions.

Ermonela Jaho was kind of a disappointment. Her voice started to emerge for the Sempre Libera aria, but she wasn't really a factor before that. Her notes were beautiful, her singing passionate, but somehow I didn't feel the emotions coming out of her voice. Kind of when you attend a play and aren't really touched by an actor you normally like. Hopefully I won't have the same impression when I come back for the last performance of the run (July 7).

Overall, once again, it's very unforgiving to come back to the Opéra de Lyon after a Muti experience...

All photos Opéra de Lyon except those below.

Further readings:
"La soprano albanaise Ermonela Jaho n'est pas encore très connue du grand public. (...) Présence magnétique et voix d'airain, la jeune femme incarne une Violetta sur le fil, alternant un chant très retenu, avec de brusques montées de fièvre - mimétique des symptômes phtisiques qui la rongent. A ses côtés, le solide Alfredo du ténor lituanien Edgaras Montvidas semble un tantinet froid, le Germont de Lionel Lhote un rien plébéien. Le seul bémol (de taille) vient de la très prosaïque direction du chef d'orchestre sud-africain Gerard Korsten."

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