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
and directed by the esteemed Sally Langford. With stunning sets
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:
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)
père (Aaron McAuley), Violetta (Stefanie Kemble-Read)
in La traviata (c) Andrew Waltham
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
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
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
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.
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
detail however small was covered
Perfect just perfect..
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
Andrew Waltham (c)