|Violetta Valery||Leticia de Altamirano|
|Alfredo Germont||Arturo Chacón Cruz|
|Giorgio Germont||Luis Ledesma|
|Flora Bervoix||Margarita Botello|
|Marchese d'Obigny||Roberto Aznar|
|Baron Duphol||Octavio Pérez|
|Dottore Grenvil||Alejandro López|
|Giuseppe||Jorge Alejandro Suárez|
|Domestico di Flora||Sergio Ovando|
|Scena e luci||Jesús Hernández|
|Coro e Orchesta del Teatro del Palacio de Bellas Artes|
After seven years of absence from Mexico's most important operatic venue, Verdi's "La Traviata" came back to the Teatro del Palacio de Bellas Artes in a new production conducted by Denis Vlasenko and directed by choreographer David Attie. The amazing young cast was led by soprano Leticia de Altamirano as Violetta, tenor Arturo Chacón Cruz as Alfredo and baritone Luis Ledesma as Giorgio Germont.
Musically speaking, the performance on March 18th was incredibly strong and full of passion from its three lead singers. Maestro Vlasenko conducted the score with elegance, nice phrasing and intensity. He maintained a good balance between the orchestra and the soloists during the concertantes and gave the exact colors and modulations to the score. His work enhanced the excellent work of his three main soloists who soared in this much beloved opera.
As Violetta Valery, soprano Leticia de Altamirano scored yet another triumph at Mexico's most distinguished opera house. Her portrayal of the doomed courtesan was very touching. Vocally, she reminded me of Ileana Cotrubas' portrayal of the role: full of fragility and femininity, showing also the inner strength and nobility of the character. She had no problem at all with the legato lines of "Ah forse lui" and sang "Sempre libera" with bravura and precise high notes. She gave a ringing high Eb at the end of the first act and held it for quite a long time, receiving a thunderous ovation from the audience. Having a beautiful voice helped de Altamirano shine through passages such as "Dite alla giovine" and her two duets with Alfredo. Her "Addio del passato" was incredibly moving and her reading of the letter was very theatrical. At the end of the performance she received a very long, well-deserved ovation.
De Altamirano also looked gorgeous onstage and had in tenor Arturo Chacón Cruz a dashing and passionate singing partner. The contrast between de Altamirano's fragile Violetta and Chacón's ardent Alfredo was perfect. Fresh from his La Scala debut as Hoffmann, Arturo Chacón surprised the audience with his intense interpretation of Alfredo. His voice has grown both in volume and warmth, showing his secure, blazing high notes in his duets with Violetta, as well as in his aria "Lunge da lei" and in the cabaletta "O mio rimorso" during the second act. He also gave a ringing high C and received a warm applause from the audience. He portrayed very well Alfredo's desperation in the second scene of Act II, during the party scene and in the last act. He phrased a beautiful "Parigi, o cara" and gave all the intensity to "O mio sospiro e palpito". It was a delight to listen and to see a youthful Alfredo that could portray the character with strength and panache.
Luis Ledesma held a strong, commanding presence as Giorgio Germont. His obscure timbre constrated well with his colleagues’ more lyric voices and gave him an air of maturity. He was both tough and decisive in his duet with Violetta "Pura siccome un angelo" and sang a powerful "Di provenza il mare il suol". We could really sense in his portrayal Germont's repentance on the last act.
Margarita Botello was a charming Flora, Roberto Aznar sang a funny Marchese, Óscar Pérez was a menacing Baron Douphol and Elizabeth Mata was a very tender Annina. The Coro del Teatro del Palacio de Bellas Artes sang with it's usual energy and gorgeous sound.
With such an amazing cast, what could possibly have gone wrong? Well,.. David Attie's senseless stage direction (or lack of it). His minimalistic concept was visually empty and seemed like he had no clue of what he really wanted to express about the characters or the opera. Instead of directing the main characters and giving them a profound sense of their evolution throughout the opera, he focused more on the constant movement of chairs, which by the way, were the only furniture on stage. The singers had to carry and interact with the chairs which made it practically impossible to establish any eye or physical contact between characters. Some of his metaphors fell empty, such as the separation of Violetta and Giorgio Germont in the second act, where a sudden bright and densely illuminated gap opened up on the floor between them. He also used a piano that was hanged from the ceiling as a metaphor of Violetta's life flying away. Isn't Verdi's prelude illustrative enough to let the audience know that Violetta is going to die?
Jesús Hernández's set design seemed to be based on the Cell Block Tango scene from the movie of the musical CHICAGO. It was a metal structure divided into squares where the silhouettes of the chorus members were seen illuminated by a red light. Only the tree in the garden during the second act looked visually nice. Sara Salomón’s costumes were a strange mixture between nineteenth century style and twentieth century clothing.
Fortunately for the audience, the extraordinary performance of the singers made them forget and even forgive the lousy staging. We hope next year we can have again the amazing pairing on stage of Leticia de Altamirano and Arturo Chacón Cruz who, thanks to their amazing voices and charming personalities, have now become Mexico's operatic dream couple.
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Autorizzazione del tribunale di Milano n° 696 dell’8 ottobre 2004 - P. Iva: 04237170966