Even a Booer Can't Wake Up Bland, Efficient Met Traviata
|La Traviata, photo @ Marty Sohl|
I was puzzled because there was nothing to boo about. In fact I couldn't imagine generating strong feelings either way about the Met's revival of La Traviata. The evening was from curtain to curtain blandly efficient. No one was really terrible, but there just wasn't anything interesting happening.
|Aleksandra Kurzak as Violetta, photo @ Marty Sohl|
As the tragic courtesan Violetta Aleksandra Kurzak was vocally beyond reproach, a few wiry high notes aside. Her voice is unusually dark, full and large for a lyric soprano. She has excellent coloratura technique and thus was one of the rare sopranos who was equally at home in the roulades of "Sempre libera" and the third act death scene. Kurzak is also a musical singer -- beautiful sense of dynamics and rhythm, clearly articulated trills, pointed diction. "Addio del passato" ended with a exquisitely tapered high A. I'd be hard-pressed to remember the last time I heard a Violetta that was so easy on the ears. Actually I can -- it was Angela Gheorghiu, the Mrs. Alagna before Kurzak became Mrs. Alagna.
|Popov and Kurzak, photo @ Marty Sohl|
|Popov as Alfredo, photo @ Marty Sohl|
|Quinn Kelsey, photo @ Marty Sohl|
|Sara Mearns and company, photo @ Marty Sohl|
Michael Mayer's production was much-derided by both critics and the public alike for its gaudy look. The production does have some irritating qualities -- the ever-present bed downstage center which never gets moved even for the party scene means that performers spend most of their time either flailing on the bed or avoiding the bed. Germont's mute daughter is another directorial conceit that didn't work. However the biggest weakness of this production is that one year later it's clear that performers are left to their own devices. Revival stage director Sarah Ina Meyers doesn't seem to have coached beyond "enter here, exit there." If the Met cast Traviata with three strong, expressive singers it could work. Everyone in the audience would probably cry. But with last night's cast the audience booer/heckler was the most passionate "singer" of the night.