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LA TRAVIATA at the Met - tonight
Last Edit: singleticket 12:56 am EST 12/05/18
Posted by: singleticket 12:48 am EST 12/05/18

A visually extravagant but uninspired new staging. The production star is the very very clever Christine Jones who designed the sets for HARRY POTTER. Like the Potter production, Jones has woven design elements of the auditorium into her set. The modernist proscenium of the Met has been extended or maybe metamorphosed into a gilded laticework that frames the stage. It's a brilliant touch that unfortunately is never topped by what follows, which is mainly a ravishment of shifting colors on a gold filligree and silvery background with no particular rhyme or reason. Susan Hilferty's costumes are also luridly colored in shimmering materials but also ugly in a clownishly theatrical way, like a production of Gogol. Maybe that was intentional or maybe not.

I like Diana Damrau, her voice is strong, dramatic and has a lovely tone to it. As an actress she's overly expressive but I like that she makes choices and sticks to them. Perhaps too many choices, she never stopped moving her arms, body or face. But her basic interpretation of the character was interesting. This was a Violetta that trades an armored hedonism for an equally armored love-sacrifice. A Violetta that never lets her guard down until the moment she is about to die. She is always dissembling. And because of that, she's doubly tragic. She never actually lets love in. The interpretation paid off in the final moments when her anger seemed to pour out at herself and Germont.

Juan Diego Flores was probably the finest singer on stage tonight but he seemed to come from another production both dramatically and musically. His singing is perfection but it felt like he was appearing in a chamber production of TRAVIATA, a softer, more intensely felt production than the one I was seeing (and one that I would have rather seen).

The audience loved Quinn Kelsey as Germont, Sr. He has a big sonorous voice that fills up the auditorium. But he looked younger than Flores and was in no way paternal. I would like to see him in another role. Placido Domingo will sing the role in the spring.

Michael Mayer's direction is rather aimless. His one big choice is to focus the staging of the entire evening around Violetta's bed which is anchored to the center of the stage and gets in everyone's way. Mayer also introduces Germont's sister who is used as a prop for Germont, Sr. aria and then hangs around with nothing to do.

It was a gala opening so a full spectrum of fashion and plastic surgery was on display. For the curtain call, Yannick Nézet-Séguin was shot with a double golden shower of confetti from two cannons. He then called up the whole orchestra on stage to take a bow.

I guess the gala dinner had extra mini champagne bottles left over and they gave them out as the audience was trying to leave. And then audience members dropped them at the subway entrance and you had to step around broken glass and stale booze to get on to the platform.

My favorite thing of the whole evening were Valentina's costumes for Rosa Ponselle's 1920's CARMEN on display in the vitrines on the Dress Circle level (I think it was the Dress Circle level). There's an amazing Schiaparelli-like Matador costume for Carmen's final act, a surrealistic concoction that is sexy and funny at the same time.
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