Following a wonderful Freischütz, Wolf Lure Opera returned to its blockbuster summer season occasion, a fully-staged, one-off La traviata, artificially amplified inside an inch of its life, within the gargantuan, open-air Filene Middle. The home was packed to the gills, the primary time it had been so for an opera since 2020, the warmth and humidity gave no indication of what this week would maintain, and we have been promised the “stars of tomorrow” warbling beneath the celebrities of immediately. Andiamo!
Traviata stays one of many few customary rep operas of which I don’t tire of listening to, perhaps as a result of it persistently rewards each performers and viewers in equal measure. Whereas its success in efficiency may be secured by a powerful Violetta, it even makes an impression with a weaker singer on the middle. But with three leads who weren’t fairly proper, this Traviata remained firmly Beltway-bound and by the point I had gotten house, the 45-minute visitors jam to go away the car parking zone was eminently brisker in my thoughts than the night’s efficiency.
I don’t imply to insinuate that Chanáe Curtis is a weak singer, nor do I imply to rattling her with faint reward. Her clear and competent Violetta is within the mildew of, say, a Patricia Racette; she has all of the notes, lots of which emanate from an opulent, generic-sounding center voice with extra wiry excessive notes and a really occasional attain right into a paler chest register, her coloratura is gingerly delivered, and she or he has nary a touch of the urbane sprezzatura that might permit a celebration lady to maintain tempo.
This was the healthiest Violetta I’ve ever seen. Whereas coughing isn’t one of many instructions in Verdi’s rating, sickness hovers over the opera from its first measure but remained dissonantly absent from Curtis’s portrayal. Staggering a couple of steps after which fainting occasionally suggests vertigo greater than tuberculosis. And her dewy look within the remaining act made her loss of life a real shock, despite the fact that the music and phrases had been making ready us for it for the reason that starting.
What she does have going for her, nevertheless, is a refreshing responsiveness to the music as a performer. Whether or not she impressed director Emma Griffin or vice versa, Violetta’s solo moments tended to have larger immediacy and larger musicality than the principally conventional (if typically nonsensically metaphysical) manufacturing in any other case contained.
Take, for instance, the thundering refrain of the departing friends from the Act I social gathering. It’s a passage I’ve at all times discovered startlingly abrupt and never somewhat bit sinister with its relentless pace and alternating, repeated phrases between the women and men. Right here, whereas the Wolf Lure Opera Refrain hammered on, sounding by some means spare regardless of their cavernously manipulated acoustic, Curtis, downstage left, writhed, seemingly buffeted by the music. Contained in the Paris of this manufacturing or inside Violetta’s thoughts, what a wonderful element! And there have been different good touches like this one, however for probably the most half, when you blinked, you missed them.
Richard Trey Smagur appeared at first to have discovered an analogous sense of theatricality by presenting as a reasonably meek, boyish Alfredo, delivering a surprisingly quiet and mild brindisi proper out of the gate. But it surely quick grew to become obvious that his burly voice is already higher suited to Radames than it’s for Alfredo, and he appears to know that higher than anybody else.
He nonetheless sang with appreciable magnificence regardless of reigning in his pure quantity and resonance, however the general impact was unsatisfying contemplating the thrilling energy behind the few phrases throughout which he did permit himself to sing full-out. Regardless of the tendency of the tone to thicken and phrases to lose some specificity within the higher reaches, his continues to be a voice with depth and expressiveness. If solely it had a barely extra congenial car to show it.
Kidon Choi, however for an unshakable youthfulness, was probably the most ideally suited for his half as Giorgio Germont, Alfredo’s father. “Di Provenza il mar” received deservedly lengthy applause because the night’s best single aria together with his plangent higher register and deeply invested dramatic aptitude regularly serving to to unfurl it. Gravitas, and age, will certainly come to him with time on this position. However on Friday, his laudable eagerness couldn’t compensate for the dearth of chemistry with Violetta in his Act II duet (to be honest, this Violetta didn’t have chemistry with both of her counterparts).
Regardless of the principal characters, the ensemble had some true standouts, particularly Matthew Goodheart as a very gallant Gaston with a clean and forthright tenor and Ruby Dibble as a seductively sung Flora, even when she was finished up like Belle Watling.
The Nationwide Symphony Orchestra, below Roberto Kalb, fell in step with the widely blah coloration of the efficiency. Whereas Kalb is fast to supply a good-looking flourish from a selected part of the orchestra, his tempi have been erratic and, usually, simply rattling gradual.
Opera at Wolf Lure just isn’t fairly finished for the summer season (a manufacturing of Susannah again on the Barns stays), however this Traviata did mark the ultimate efficiency I’ll cowl as the author chargeable for the DMV Parterre beat. And for that, I categorical loads of gratitude to La Cieca, my esteemed predecessor Alex Baker, and the cultural organizations that valiantly attempt (and infrequently succeed) at injecting a city badly in want of empathy with a little bit of tradition. Subsequent cease: New England!