Fort Worth Opera
Conductor – Joe Illick
Director – David Gately
Scenic/Costume Designer – Desmond Heeley
Lighting Designer – Chad R. Jung
Wig and Makeup Designer – Steven Bryant
Stage Manager – Thomas Kelly
Choreographer/Assistant Director – Kyle Lang
Repetiteur – Stephen Carey
English Supertitle Translation – Keith A. Wolfe
Spanish Supertitle Translation – Gabriela Lomónaco
Violetta Valéry – Rachelle Durkin
Flora Bervoix – Clara Nieman
Marquis d’Obigny – Wesley Gentle
Baron Douphol – Matt Moeller
Doctor Grenvil – Stephen Clark
Gastone – Brian Wallin
Alfredo Germont – Patrick O’Halloran
Annina – Maren Weinberger
Giuseppe – Jared Welch
Giorgio Germont – Nicholas Pallesen
Messenger – Nate Mattingly
Servant – Ryan Stoll
Reviewed Performance 4/25/2015
Reviewed by Laurie Lynn Lindemeier, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
The 2015 Fort Worth Opera Festival opened with Giuseppe Verdi’s brilliant La Traviata, on April 25th to an eager audience that appeared to delight in this production. As the curtains in Bass Hall parted to reveal a boisterous party scene in Violetta’s sumptuous salon home in Paris, there was much to admire in the way of flashy gowns and crisp tuxedos, costumes designed by Desmond Heeley. To add to their lush appearance, the chorus’ singing of the famous “Brindisi” drinking song was as full and rich as their flirtatious shenanigans. This chorus scene did much to set the mood for an opera that strangely (É strano) has great fun with love and death.
The story tells of courtesan Violetta’s grand demise, all in the space of four acts. In this day and age it would never fly that a woman in her profession might give up on a man she’s become attached to just so his sister could marry honorably, but then that’s why the opera is set in Paris circa 1840.
The first love duet, “Libiamo ne’lieti calici”, between Alfredo and Violetta, was executed vocally correct but sans passion from Alfredo, sung by Patrick O’Halloran. If he was enamored with Violetta it certainly was not evident during this duet nor the rest of the opera. The young tenor sang the role with strength and clarity but not much ardor; simply much too mechanical singing and acting.
Again, in the death scene, the acting of the two lovers was marred by a lack of emotional connection. Rachelle Durkin portrayed Violetta’s lingering state well but needed sensitivity from her Alfredo who unfortunately groped her rather than holding her with the tenderness one might expect while cradling a woman barely clinging to life.
Soprano Rachelle Durkin as Violetta had a good handle on the demanding soprano role and sang her numerous melismatic passages in “Sempre libera” with impressive dexterity and fluidity. I do wish the orchestra had not lagged behind her pace.
Nicholas Pallesen as Alfredo’s father, Giorgio Germont, was the most impressive voice of the evening. Unfortunately, with his blonde wig and light use of his cane, he did not create a feasible father character and looked the same age as his son. Still, it was refreshing to hear his sturdy baritone.
Chad Jung designed the eerie lighting in the final bedroom scene that added an icy chill to the air for the dying courtesan’s last hurrah. His lighting for the garden scene lent a warm effect with a rosy glow in the background to contrast with the green lacey foreground.
The sets of the ornate Paris homes and verdant country garden were beautifully designed by Desmond Heeley. However, Flora’s home in Act III was the set that took my breath away as the curtain rose to reveal deep crimson tones, flocculent curtains and a glittering chandelier. The aura of luxury and posh upper class life was conveyed well. Once again the chorus sang and acted magnificently, and the dancing by the gypsies, matador, and his troupe was delightful! The flutter of red fans was highly effective and mirrored the violins’ tittering in Verdi's orchestration, making the whole stage glitter with flecks of red. Little touches like this make a production sparkle and kudos must be awarded to Director David Gately for his stage direction in this scene.
Tenor Jared Welch performed the role of Violetta’s servant Giuseppe with a deft sense of mischief, in this his debut season with the company. Opera studio artist Matt Moeller as the wealthy Baron Douphol sang his baritone role smoothly as he coyly interacted with his lover Violetta.
Don’t miss your chance to enjoy Verdi’s prima donna opera. Only two performances remain.
Fort Worth Opera Festival
Ball Performance Hall
4th and Calhoun Streets
Fort Worth, TX 76102
Final performances are Sunday, May 3rd at 2:00 pm and Saturday, May 9nd at 7:30 pm
Tickets range from $17.00 to $195.00. Military receives a 50% discount. Student rush tickets are available, with ID, 15 minutes prior to performance.
Purchase tickets online at www.fwopera.org or call 817-731-0726
(Toll Free 1.877.396.7372).