The Russian soprano Kristina Mkhitaryan makes her debut at Glyndebourne Festival Opera in a revival of Tom Cairns’s 2014 production of Verdi’s La Traviata. And she brings to the role of the courtesan Violetta, who gives up the party life for love, a spellbinding range of vocal colour enriched by a giddying technique that takes the voice into the furthest corners of experience and emotion.
She is joined by her fellow Russian, the baritone Igor Golovatenko as the father of her lover Alfredo, for the central scene in which Violetta agrees to give up Alfredo to save his family’s honour. Maybe it’s their national bond, more likely it’s just masterly musicianship, but, either way, the pair have a painterly gift for feathering in a dust of sound or applying the broad brushstrokes of passion, against the watery Monet landscape of Hildegard Bechtler’s design for the couple’s country retreat.
If American-born Zach Borichevsky as Alfredo is outclassed by the two Russians, he does have the youthfulness of the unformed character, and there is nice work from one of Glyndebourne’s home-grown artists, James Newby, who stepped up as the Marchese on opening night and impressed with his few bars. That’s a name to watch out for.
The London Philharmonic Orchestra under Richard Farnes fair purrs along, with some nice solo work, and a red-blooded feel for Verdi’s pulsating rhythms, and the GFO Chorus is in its element in the party scenes, roistering in Bechtler’s 20th-century allsorts frocks and hats.
Verdi-lovers are spoiled for choice for Traviatas this summer: a second cast takes over at Glyndebourne for the high-summer batch of the season’s 20 performances, with Lebanese-Canadian soprano Joyce El-Khoury as Violetta. She sang the role earlier this year in the five-star Royal Opera House production, which also stretches into July, with three Violettas, including Corinne Winters. Either is a great introduction to opera or satisfying for old hands.
La Traviata is sung in Italian with English surtitles. A performance from 2014 is relayed at cinemas across London on 8 June. Click here for more details.
|What||La Traviata review, Glyndebourne Festival Opera|
|Where||Glyndebourne, Lewes, East Sussex, BN8 5UU | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Victoria (underground)|
21 May 17 – 27 Aug 17, 20 performances; three Sunday performances start 15 minutes earlier. Dinner interval of 85 minutes.
|Price||£20 - £260|
|Website||Click here for more information and booking|