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Verdi La Traviata

ENO @ The Coliseum, London
with February 2013

Being generalists, not opera specialists, we attended La Traviata (yet again !) with apprehension and blissful ignorance that Peter Konwitschny would deprive us of our complimentary interval drinks [q.v. The Londonist] !

We tend to read the essays in the lavish programme books on the way home, and so are spared the influence of the "grape vine" which had tended to prejudice Opera Britannia's reviewer...

All that was to the advantage of this production, which we found strangely involving and moving. We liked the beautiful receding sets of red curtains, and quickly felt for the lovely little Corinne Winters, in matching red, at bay in the shockingly riotous Act 1 party scene, with Ben Johnson trying to protect her...

Nor did we feel short changed by the lack of elaborate conventional scenery. We didn't miss the ballets, nor the repeats in arias.

In today's Guardian there is a plea against repeats in Beethoven symphonies *, and I have long found the conventional embroidered da capo repeats a deadening and deterrent feature of baroque opera - q.v. The Enchanted Island at the Met **).

We were moved in Violetta's death scene more than often before, and rated this one of the best of ENO's experimental productions, which more often tend to find us in the ranks of the conservatives.

Huge praise for Corinne Winters and for conductor Michael Hofsteter.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Peter Konwitschny's taut production of La traviata completely outclasses Kasper Holten's naive Eugene Onegin
[John Allison [Telegraph * * * * *]

*"Beethoven's symphonies [are] now so familiar and accessible that we no longer need repeats, as they only "impede the dramatic momentum inherent in the work". As a result, everything we cherish in the music – harmonic structure, large-scale architecture, sense of cumulative power – gets jettisoned in this utterly pointless exercise." [Guardian 8/2/013]

**the inevitable longueurs because of the da capo structure of most of the arias [The Enchanted Island]

Photos Tristram Kenton