La Traviata - May 2017


 

Raise your glass, flutter your pretty lashes, it's Paris in the salons and you're the life of this party. He's staring at you, he's singing for you... Are you tempted?

Verdi's Romantic Masterpiece will bring a tear to your eye as Violetta desperately clutches at Love before time runs out.


This new production is traditionally-staged and sung in English with professional soloists and orchestra along with the superb Kentish Opera chorus.

The cast and orchestra were conducted by
Robyn Sevastos and directed by the esteemed Sally Langford. With stunning sets by Enid Strutt and costumes created by Carol Stevenson.

La traviata is the best-loved of all Verdi's operas: the story of a naive country girl who became one of Paris's celebrated courtesans. Violetta created, and lived in, a world of cultural society, with artists and musicians for admirers. Her downfall came when she fell in love with ardent young Alfredo, also naive, from the provinces.

After a heady and romantic summer of love, their moment of bliss was interrupted by the real world and its impending influence on their relationship, that was to destroy their lives. Her destiny was sealed as, for one moment, she listened to her soul. But the world was not interested, so she again returned to the society life she had tried to shun, becoming the victim.

Verdi's haunting music follows her tragic journey, with the sparkling Brindisi echoing her joy of life; it then moves slowly depicting her heartbreak and the tragic final aria as Violetta dies.

 

The Cast Included:

 Violetta

 


Stefanie Kemball- Read

 and

 

 
Katherine Blumenthal

 Alfredo

 
Tristan Stocks

 and

 
Roger Paterson
 Germont

 
Aaron McAuley

 and

 
Hakan Vramsmo
 Flora

 
Ayaka Tanimoto
   
 Annina

 
Katy Bingham-Best
   
 Gaston

 
Georg Tormann
   
 Baron

 
Timothy Holden
   
 Marchese


 
Phil Newton
   


Review of Kentish Opera's La traviata by Martyn Harrison of Seen and Heard International


Kentish Opera Perform La traviata Lean Ensemble, Effective Production

United Kingdom Kentish Opera 2017 - Verdi, La traviata (In English): Soloists, Kentish Opera Chorus and Orchestra / Robyn Sevastos (conductor), The Stag Theatre, Sevenoaks, Kent, 27.5.2017. (MH)

Germont père (Aaron McAuley), Violetta (Stefanie Kemble-Read) in La traviata (c) Andrew Waltham

 Cast:  
 Violetta Valéry  Stefanie Kemball-Read
 Flora Bervoix  Ayaka Tanimoto
 Annina  Katy Bingham-Best
 Alfredo Germont  Tristan Stocks
 Giorgio Germont  Aaron McAuley
 Baron Douphol Timothy Holden
 Marquis d'Obigny  Philip Newton
 Dr. Grenvil  Richard Broadley
 Gastone de Letorières  Georg Tormann
 Giuseppe  Edmund Henderson
 Messenger  Mark Edwards



 Production:  
 Director  Sally Langford
 Conductor  Robyn Sevastos
 Choreographer  Pauline Flanagan
 Set Designer  Enid Strutt
 Costume Designer  Carol Stevenson
 Lighting Designer  Colin Martin
 Assistant Lighting Designer  Edward Palmer
 English Translation  Joseph Machlis


Many of our provincial, professional Opera Companies are unable to get the review coverage of our larger, well supported, national enterprises. Kentish Opera is one of these vital out-of-city groups which fosters young talent, giving invaluable experience in major roles and opportunities for community chorus involvement in Grand Opera. La traviata was presented fully staged over four nights at The 450 seat Stag theatre, Sevenoaks, double casting the major principal roles and involving 42 members of the chorus with orchestra - not an inexpensive enterprise in today's world of restrictive Arts funding. Under the Artistic Directorship of Sally Langford - an established opera performer herself - this company is a shining example of what can be achieved.


The staging was essentially simple but effective, on one level using furniture, drapes, basic lighting and a backlit cyc. The ensemble action was functionally blocked and choreography sufficient to allow for accurate vocal work on the part of the chorus. The words in English translation were pleasingly clear - no surtitles required, although for me at times, the action did not match the libretto. Costumes were colourful and showed off the extravagance of the era. I do question some of the gentlemen's footwear and whether ladies in glamorous evening gowns would be seated on the floor! Additionally, some levels could have been used to break up the serried ranks and more effective use of side lighting to enhance the ambience. However, this is being nit picky in the entirety.


Stefanie Kemble-Read's Violetta was an elegant, believable courtesan, whose slightness of stature made her consumptive state all the more convincing. However, there was no feebleness of voice, as she displayed both the bravura and the mezza voce singing required for this role, particularly in the favourite 'Follie! gioir' section of 'Sempre libera'. Doomed from the start, her journey to the final notes of the last act was well paced and emotionally convincing.


Tristan Stock's Alfredo - a light lyric tenor, well experienced in Gilbert and Sullivan - didn't quite match up to the power of his beloved vocally or dramatically. He had all the notes, including a sustained top C at the end of 'O mio rimorso', but was tiring by 'Questa donna conoscete' at the end of Act 2. Nevertheless, a steady workmanlike performance and getting invaluable experience both here and at Glyndebourne.


Baron Douphol strongly played by Timothy Holden gave Violetta every reason to be nervous of him.


As Germont père, Aaron McAuley, a young and expressive baritone, displayed a commanding presence from his very first Act 2 appearance, with vocal colour to match when required. His 'Di Provenza il mar' did not disappoint and he coped well with the difficult tessitura this aria presents. A role he has performed before, he clearly displayed the torment of the Act 3 finale both physically and vocally. A singer to be followed in the future and already in good hands, also at Glyndebourne.


Katy Bingham-Best sang the role of devoted servant Annina convincingly. An experienced performer, her every gesture and facial expression showed just how a Comprimario part can add so much to a performance.


Ayaka Tanimoto's Flora was a playful companion for Violetta and imbued this small role with charm.


Dr. Grenvil was sung and acted sympathetically by Richard Broadley. A long time member of Kentish Opera, his warm bass baritone balanced well in the Finale ensemble. It was pleasing to see members of the chorus singing several Comprimario roles with panache. The chorus work was secure and every member on stage was clearly enjoying their active involvement in the plot.


Finally, Robyn Sevastos as musical director is to be commended for her control of the twenty-four piece, professional orchestra and the singers. A slightly shaky tuning of strings for the opening Adagio - possibly due to a warm 30 minute wait for a member of cast to arrive - was rectified in the similar Andante at the opening of Act III with a fine balance of sound. Sevastos was a singer's conductor giving helpful, clear cues and ever vigilant. The orchestra in a partly covered pit maintained a pleasing balance between players and stage.


Small scale maybe, but big on production values, Kentish Opera should go on from strength to strength.


Martyn Harrison
Seen and Heard International


NODA Review of Kentish Opera's La Traviata by Gordon Harris


La Traviata is one of the most famous in the operatic repertory. The score is littered with fantastic tunes that are now wildly famous, even those that aren't at all operatically versed will know many of the arias. Beyond that it is the coherence of the whole piece that makes it a masterpiece. The taut plot and vivid characters paired with Verdi's perfectly attuned music tend to result in few dry eyes by the end of Act III.

Kentish Opera's GLORIOUS production of La Traviata is sumptuous in all ways. Sally Langford once again gathered her cast and crew together to bring Sevenoaks audiences a perfect Traviata…. and with Robyn Sevastos as Conductor, this production was a perfect joy to watch. All the cast were chosen carefully, and with the back up of the tremendous Kentish Opera's chorus, all of them and principal leads gave us solid performances.Carol Stevenson's costume design was stunning and the red theme in Act II was breathtaking…every detail however small was covered…Perfect just perfect..

Teamed with Enid Stutt's ingenious set of the clever use of linen/tulle drapes, this women works wonders with her set designs always coming up with something fresh.

La Traviata at the Stag Theatre is no tragedy. The plot may be a tragic story. But the production certainly isn't.Thank you, thank you Kentish Opera for inviting me - as you can tell I loved your Traviata.

Gordon Harris

NODA


Photos by Andrew Waltham (c)


Many more photos are on the Kentish Opera Flickr page