By Sebastian Spreng, Visual Artist and Classical Music Writer
The satisfaction of a good opera performance is equal to that of a delicious meal. In this regard, the Florida Grand Opera’s La Traviata is nothing less than a banquet. Verdi’s immortal work is underpinned by the lavish and ultra-traditional FGO production unveiled in 2008; a fine example of the Bliss Herbert-Allen Charles Klein team’s experienced work. Fragile splendor and pathetic decadence re conveyed by the first and last acts and exquisitely detailed costumes.
The musical department offers welcome reliability and pleasant surprises. The chorus is excellent, the supporting case is effective (especially Adam Lau’s Baron and Graham Fandrei’s Doctor) and the leading singers execute estimable performances.
Young Mexican soprano Maria Alejandres gives a first-class performance of Violetta. She has a rich, silky voice that is at times reminiscent of Ana Moffo in her prime. At 28, Alejandres’ vocal confidence and lack of artifice allow her to own her character effortlessly. She is a soprano who really sings – a property not common nowadays. Here is another tenor to follow closely. If – following the Gounod’s Juliette she sang last year – Alejandres’ performance was somewhat to be expected, the surprise was the young Sicilian tenor Ivan Magri, who delivered a credible Alfredo, physically and vocally impressive. Rounding out the trio is Magri’s compatriot – the two’s perfect Italian diction provide additional pleasure – Giorgio Caoduro, graced with a powerful baritone voice, fully able to convey the emotion of the alltime favorite romanza Di Provenza.
The orchestra is the other star of the evening thanks to FGO’s musical director Ramón Tebar. A young maestro in the old school tradition, he faithfully adheres to the score, and his performance exhibits no indulgence or mannerisms, but rather illuminates details usually overlooked. Such details were highlighted by the strings in the preludes to the first and last acts. Their ritardandos and diminuendos paint a melancholy period atmosphere, and their use of fast and vigorous tempi accentuate at precise moments the urgency of the passions portrayed onstage.
Seasoned with just the right touch of drama, it is a musically noble, elegant, expressive and – fortunately – Verdian Traviata.
La Traviata by the Florida Grand Opera: April 20-May 4, click here for tickets and details.