A review of ‘La Traviata’ at the Millennium Forum last weekend, by Londonderry art fan and photographer, Gerry Temple.
Verdi’s operatic masterpiece La Traviata came to town and what an opening night it was. The heavy rain of recent days cleared to allow the great and the good to promenade to the Millennium Forum in all their finery for a wonderful evening of entertainment.
But this production also made scruffs like me in jeans and tee shirts equally at home with their goal of proving opera is not just for the elite but for everyone. Following my recent visit to Cuba where the opera is the food of the masses it was a beautiful feeling to discover that the myth that opera is high brow and only for the chosen few is now being successfully challenged.
The show as staged by a collaboration between the North West and Spark Opera companies bringing together a cast of international professional singers, live orchestra plus an large chorus containing many local singers.
La Traviata (the Fallen Woman), told the love story of Violetta and Alfredo through many very well known arias and choruses.
International soprano Ann Jennings, founder of Donegal based North West Opera and Kate Guelke a young, inspirational directorial talent and founder of Belfast based Spark Opera were responsible for bringing the show to the Forum.
The aim of both companies of making high quality, live opera accessible to a regional audience was successfully achieved tonight. The night was an uplifting experience with wonderful accompaniment delivered by a professional orchestra under the baton of the internationally acclaimed conductor Nader Abassi.
A world class performance by leading lady Cristiana Oliveira as Violetta and internationally acclaimed Welsh tenor Stephen Mullan as Alfredo brought the tragic love story to life for the appreciative audience. Baritone Hrólfur Saemundsson as Germont, Paul Martin as Gaston and Katie Patton as Annina added to this masterpiece in their supporting roles
Truth is that people listen to opera all the time without realising it. Operatic works have been plundered by TV, film and advertising because they are powerful pieces of music which can evoke drama and strong emotions. From the opening few bars I found myself humming along in my head to music I was so familiar with. Fellow audience members were so lucky it was in my head because there was no way I could reached those notes other than in my imagination.
La Traviata is one of the most performed operas in the world and is so popular due to its marriage of drama and fantastic music. Even if you are not an opera buff I can guarantee you will recognise some of the melodies. Opera is for everyone and this is right here to our doorstep.