La Traviata is a beautiful opera into which Giuseppe Verdi wrote joy, folly, love, and tragedy. Like any good tragedy, the idea is to become attached to the characters and enthralled by their situation.
Unfortunately for Opera North, the poor performance by Ji-Min Park as Alfredo Germont in the first act delayed the necessary affectation required for the final scene.
I am pleased to say, however, that Ji-Min Park’s disappointing start was overcome during the second act, as his love for Violetta became clear and his sorrow at her departure was sufficiently mournful. Moreover, his poor start was overshadowed by the ensemble’s joyful celebrations, which quickly distracted the audience away from his shortcomings.
It was still a shame, though, that Ji-Min Park’s voice, expression, and acting were so underwhelming in the first act, because Anna Jeruc-Kopec played the perfect Violetta. Their love story took too long to get off the ground due to the lack of emotion emanating from Alfredo.
Jeruc-Kopec played the role with grace, elegance, and a youthful stupidity that was beautiful to watch. Her vocal range was breathtaking and her gentle glides around the stage were mesmerising.
Alessandro Talevi’s stage directions created excellent ambience, especially during Violetta’s final moments. The use of masked characters applauding in the background, contrasting with the despair of Alfredo in the foreground, provided for an enthrallingly tragic moment with a hint of confusion and madness, which served as a perfect allegory of the death of a loved one.
A review of Opera North’s La Traviata would be incomplete without reference to the set and costume designer Madeleine Boyd. Boyd’s set design was both simple and subtle while providing for a strong look and excellent space around which the cast could move. The beautiful costumes really defined the first act’s celebratory feel whilst the use of gentle white bedding subtly peppered with blood stains grounded the final act in sickness, despair, and the loss of a young and innocent Violetta Valéry.