I have to say I empathised with her dilemma – certainly at the beginning of the evening.
The Royal Opera House was last night, and is, a picture. A picture of elevated sumptuousness, where people dress for the occasion and actually put their mobile phones away (albeit only until the interval). After all, what’s wrong with a bit of respect for artistry on the kind of levels that surpass the ordinary, with attention to detail rarely experienced.
I waited, orchestra stall seated, for my companion who was running very late and got chatting to the couple next to me. Ted told me “We’ve seen it already this year, we loved it so much we just had to come back.”
I looked around at a rapidly swelling auditorium. Plush red velvet seats complimented a predominantly glamorous audience. My opera partner arrived just in time. The conductor’s baton was raised and we were off.
Opening with a party we had Violetta in a quandry once she’s told of Alfredo’s love for her. I hear you, I wanted to say as she weighed up the options: To flit from pleasure to pleasure in life – after all what else is there – or to fall in love? Her current situation certainly looked like fun, gold leaf fell from the ceiling onto an ice cupid, champagne was everywhere and the dresses – ah the dresses shimmered and sparkled causing me to gasp at their beauty.
She couldn’t help herself though. Having thought she was incapable of love, she fell hard for Alfredo. Unfortunately along with her consumption the prognosis was starting to look grim, especially given she had to sell all she owned to support their lifestyle. Things looked a little drab in comparison to Paris in their domestic situation. Even her gown was plain.
Thank goodness a letter arrived (there’s always a letter) inviting her to a party, as Alfredo’s father simultaneously orders her to renounce his son in order to protect the family name. ‘Oh dear’ I thought and ‘Hurrah, a party!’
The following casino scene had me swooning. Red and black, golden lighting and a giant sized lamp comprised the elegant and splendid backdrop for this tragic act, with Violetta sacrificing her love for a heartbroken Alfredo. A tear formed in my eye, and again a little later when he pleaded for forgiveness as she lay dying in his arms.
The velvet curtains fell, the applause began and continued for at least ten minutes.
Ted turned to me. “Yes, she’s very good, Venera, although we did think she struggled a bit on the higher notes.” I looked at him incredulously. There’s strength in human frailty and vice versa, I thought; her very voice had embodied it.