A ho-hum Traviata
Civic Opera House
11/20/2013 - & November 23, 27, 30, December 3, 6, 9, 12*, 15, 20, 2014
Giuseppe Verdi : La traviata
Marina Rebeka (Violetta Valery), Joseph Calleja (Alfredo), Quinn Kelsey (Germont), J'nai Bridges (Flora), Will Liverman (Marquis d'Obigny), Adam Bonanni (Gastone), Nicholas Pallesen (Baron Douphol), Richard Ollarsaba (Doctor Grenvil), Julie Anne Miller (Annina)
The Lyric Opera Chorus, Michael Black (chorus master), The Lyric Opera Orchestra, Massimo Zanetti (conductor)
Arin Arbus (director), Riccardo Hernandez (set designer), Cait O'Connor (costumes and puppets), Camille Dugas (associate set designer), Marcus Doshi (lighting designer), Austin McCormick (choreographer)
(Courtesy of Chicago Lyric Opera)
Chicago's season continues with this rather dull production of a Verdi favorite. Yes, opera companies need to rely on their Traviatas to produce revenue. But this rather unmemorable performance proves the point painfully.
There is little in Arin Arbus's production to add much to the work. The only unusual feature of Riccardo's Hernandez's sets is that the rooms where the action unfolds tend to be circular. It reminded me only of the passage in Huysmans's now terribly unfashionable novel Against Nature in which the humanity-loathing antihero remembers a vignette of his life when he advised a friend to move into such a place in the expectation that the awkwardness of finding furniture for it would drive the young couple to ruin. It did, but I doubt the production team had any such ideals.
The costumes were exactly what one would expect. Only the puppet bulls in the second scene of Act II lent some individuality.
Marina Rebeka's Violetta was not a terrible choice for the role, but she was not outstanding, either. The reading was more efficient than anything else, with some gentleness in the Act III piano singing that should not be discounted. Joseph Calleja's Alfredo delivered the necessary bout of ardor, though the tenor's characteristic vibrato did not always satisfy. Quinn Kelsey's Germont portends a solid professional future for this talented young singer.
Massimo Zanetti led a slow performance that often dragged and lacked excitement.
Paul du Quenoy