The Arts

Glimmerglass Opera Festival 2009 – Verdi’s La traviata

Glimmerglass Opera Festival 2009 – Verdi’s La traviata featured image

reviewed by Paula Citron

La traviata
Glimmerglass Opera
Composed by Giuseppe Verdi
Conducted by Mikhail Agrest
Directed by Jonathan Miller
Starring Mary Dunleavy, Ryan MacPherson and Malcolm MacKenzie
At the Alice Busch Opera Theatre until Aug. 25
Cooperstown NY


Every Glimmerglass opera has its own strength. For La traviata, it is iconic director Jonathan Miller. He has set the opera in Second Empire France as in Verdi’s original. Having no revisionist directorial distractions allows Miller to focus on the musical play.

The emotional cadence of the scenes is incredibly intense with the roles of the comprimario characters becoming three-dimensional. For example, Baron Douphol, Violetta’s jealous lover, is given a brooding presence that hangs over her first act party like a miasma.

Miller is blessed with impressive singing actors that include soprano Mary Dunleavy as the consumptive Violetta, tenor Ryan MacPherson as her young swain Alfredo, and baritone Malcolm MacKenzie as Père Germont. While Dunleavy and MacPherson opted not to go for the money notes, their vocal performances are still rich. Talented MacKenzie has a full-bodied, old-fashioned, blood and thunder voice.

Paint-by-numbers conductor Mikhail Agrest stays out of Miller’s way and follows the singers.

La traviata continues at Glimmerglass Opera until Aug. 25.

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