A Convincing Ekaterina Bakanova Stars in Peralada’s La traviata

07/08/2019

SpainSpain Festival Castell de Peralada [2] – Verdi, La traviata: Intermezzo Chorus, Liceu Orchestra / Riccardo Frizza (conductor), Castle Gardens Auditorium, Peralada, 5.8.2019. (JMI)

La traviata (c) Toti Ferrer:

Production:

Director & Sets – Paco Azorín
Costumes – Ulises Mérida
Lighting – Albert Faura
Choreography – Carlos Martos

Cast:

Violetta – Ekaterina Bakanova
Alfredo – René Barbera
Germont – Quinn Kelsey
Flora – Laura Vilà
Annina – Marta Ubieta
Doctor Grenvil – Stefano Palatchi
Gaston – Vicenç Esteve Madrid
Baron Douphol – Carles Daza
Marquis d’Obigny – Guillem Batllori

This year’s opera at the Castell de Peralada Festival is La traviata in a new production by Paco Azorín. Unfortunately, I found his work of little interest and pretentious as well. His concept presents us with a modern and free Violetta (‘Sempre libera’) who might be well suited to the present day but is far removed from the opera’s plot. While the Germont-Alfredo-Violetta relationship is understandable in the late nineteenth century and first half of the twentieth, it certainly wouldn’t happen nowadays

The sets are by Paco Azorín as well and offer two different stages. In Act I the stage is occupied by four pool tables, and here the action takes place. In the first scene of Act II, the floor is lifted, leaving the pool tables hanging at the back of the stage. At Flora’s party we return to the pool tables (again on the floor), while in the last act the floor and tables are raised once more. The costumes are modern, and the lighting and choreography are adequate.

The stage direction seems to me rather deficient, especially in the second set. The extras are placed descending the hanging tables, while the action takes place down below, but the movement of those extras makes it hard to pay attention to what really counts: the music and the singing. Another critical point is the girl who is often on stage and appears to be the daughter of Violeta and Alfredo (‘Sempre libera’ again). The problem of having children present on stage is that often they are not particularly good actors and spoil the drama, which is what happened on this occasion.

Conductor Riccardo Frizza gave a correct reading and was helpful to the singers. He offered the complete score of the opera and drew a fine performance from the Liceu orchestra. The Intermezzo Chorus was also very good.

The role of Violetta was sung by soprano Ekaterina Bakanova, whose performance was the best of the trio of protagonists. It has often been said that two and even three different sopranos are needed for this opera, and there is some truth in it. Ekaterina Bakanova is a lyric soprano with an attractive voice, who was at her best in the second act. She was a little short on the low notes in Act III, while in Act I she had to scrape the very top notes, especially at the end of ‘Sempre libera’. But all in all she was a convincing Violetta.

Alfredo was interpreted by tenor René Barbera, who has an attractive voice although he was a little short on volume. His biggest problem was a lack of expressiveness on stage, which made him a rather flat Alfredo. The part of Germont was sung by Quinn Kelsey, who was reasonably good, although his voice did not always reach the audience.

In the secondary characters, Laura Vilà was a rather modest Flora, and the same can be said of Stefano Palatchi as Doctor Grenvil. Marta Ubieta did well as Annina, as did Vicenç Esteve Madrid, Carles Daza and Guillem Batllori in their roles.

José M. Irurzun

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Berlin’s Staatsoper Unter den Linden 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • NEW! 2020 Three Choirs Festival – 25 July to 1 August __________________________________
  • NEW! 2020-2021 at Dresden’s Semperoper __________________________________
  • UPDATED ONLINE NEWS! IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) PANDEMIC __________________________________
  • NEW! Zurich Opera in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • NEW! 2020 Lucerne Summer Festival – 14 August to 13 September __________________________________
  • NEW! London’s Southbank Centre in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Met: Live in HD in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • NEW! 2020-2021 at London’s Barbican __________________________________
  • NEW! Birmingham Royal Ballet in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • NEW! Carnegie Hall’s 2020-2021 season __________________________________
  • NEW! London’s Wigmore Hall in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • NEW! Tamara Rojo’s new Raymonda and ENB in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Free Review Summary Newsletter

    Search S&H

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! ETO’S BROADCAST DEBUT – WATCH ST JOHN PASSION ON EASTER SUNDAY __________________________________
  • NEW! Hymns and Suchlike – a reflection for our current times __________________________________
  • UPDATED ONLINE NEWS! IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) PANDEMIC __________________________________
  • NEW! Remembering George London’s life and legacy on the 100th anniversary of his birth __________________________________
  • APOLLO FIRE’S JEANNETTE SORRELL DISCUSSES O JERUSALEM! __________________________________
  • PIANIST LOUIS LORTIE IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • PIANIST JONATHAN BISS IN CONVERSATION WITH CHRISTOPHER SALLON __________________________________
  • YAN PASCAL TORTELIER IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH SARDINIAN TENOR PIERO PRETTI __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH UKRAINIAN SOPRANO LIUDMYLA MONASTYRSKA __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH CHINESE SOPRANO HUI HE __________________________________
  • BEST OF 2019 FROM SOME OF OUR REVIEWERS __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR TOM HAMMOND IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR HERVÉ NIQUET INTERVIEWED ABOUT GRÉTRY’S RICHARD, COEUR DE LION __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month