La Traviata at Det Kongelige Teater
October 18, 2008
Some months ago I learned that Andreas Scholl was to sing Partenope at the Royal Danish Theatre, and pestered my friend whom we'll call the Opernphrenologe into going, as she is rather closer to Copenhagen than I am. The Opernphrenologe also went to a performance of La Traviata, and what follows are her (edited) observations. The Partenope review is forthcoming.
* Notes *
"Sehmbreh leebherha deggaoo
Follehggyar dee geeoiha in geeoiha..."
La Traviata at the Copenhagen Opera House was decent. I liked how all of the opera singers were at around the same level, nobody stood out to make the rest sound horrible. Both Violetta (Anne Margrethe Dahl) and Alfredo (Niels Jorgen Riis) started out too quietly, but they gained in strength halfway through the first act. Giorgio Germont (Jorn Pedersen) reminded me more of an automaton rather than an opera singer. He couldn't act and there was almost no emotion in his voice. I kept on seeing a wind-up key in his back every time he sang. On the other hand, everyone was on pitch most of the time, which shocked me!
Violetta, sung by Anne Margrethe Dahl, had extremely poor enunciation. At first, I thought about how much I enjoyed her warm round tone. Considering that I normally hate sopranos, this was surprising! Then I noticed that she was slurring. She couldn't act and her pitch went slightly off somewhere in the middle of the second act, but on the plus side she was hot and she had nice legs.
The staging was absurd. During Act II, they put piles of dirt in the bedroom to show how poor they were. One pile of dirt had some pretty green weeds growing on it, which I thought was a charming touch. During Act III, they made a hole in the floor. That was profound.
Act III was by far my favorite. Shortly after curtain rise, a woman pretending to be drunk threw off her cape and collapsed to the ground. Naked. Her quivering pallid flesh lay on the stage floor until some other extras carried the mound off. Then some man took his shirt off! I don't know why he did that, but he did! Then the de-shirted man pretended to have anal sex with another man who was previously dressed up as a woman. Finally, when Alfredo denounced Violetta, he ripped her dress off so she had to lay on the stage in her underwear. But they weren't any normal underwear. They were so exceedingly cootish that I was jealous.
The Danish people do not seem to cherish their opera singers very much. The program does not contain artist biographies, but instead has a page of all of the opera singers' names with tiny little pictures. It was more like a police line-up than an opera cast list.
* Tattling *
The audience talked quite a bit. When Violetta had consumption, someone else in the audience joined her. There was lots of rustling. The people in front of me talked to me during the break and seemed surprised when I told them that I always stand at the opera if I have a choice.
There was some high-pitched feedback during the first act on the left side of the opera house. Fortunately, it disappeared by the second act.
The opera house supplied little cups in the bathrooms so that it was easy to get water. I appreciated that very much!