Theatre review: La Traviata at the Kings Head Theatre

La Traviata - Prudence Sanders (Violetta) - photo by Christopher Tribble

La Traviata - Prudence Sanders (Violetta) - photo by Christopher Tribble - Credit: Archant

Yet another success for the fledging theatre, says Aline Waites

LA TRAVIATA at The Kings Head

Until November 30th


Traviata is the most tuneful of operas – in this version it seems like a string of familiar melodies all strung together. It is the thirteenth in the long line of daring productions for OperaUpClose. These include of course, the Olivier winning La Boheme with direction and libretto by Robin Norton-Hale which has been seen at the Charing Cross and Soho theatres in London, at venues in Europe and around the Regions. She has not only done this English version of Traviata but also a Swedish one for the OUC’s collaboration with Malmo Opera.

Her Traviata is set in the colourful twenties, the flapper period. The atmosphere is beautifully evocated by Katie Bellman who has designed a stunning set which changes from dance hall to the attic shared by the lovers.

The singers are equally proficient in acting as they are in singing. It seems odd at first for Germont, the respectable father of Alfredo to appear in the opening dance hall scene but it is a joy to see more of David Durham whose performance combines the authority of the politician protecting the reputation of his family with the sympathy he feels for the cause of his problem. A difficult path to tread and he manoeuvres it brilliantly

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The starring role of Violetta, the fallen woman is played by an unusually youthful almost childlike Prudence Sanders. But she has the vocal power for the role – occasionally a little too much for the Kings head - but is most remarkably effective in her quieter moments, especially touching in the death scene.

Lawrence Olsworth–Peter is quirky and lyrical with a charming, almost mischievous demeanour in his portrayal of Alfredo, while Mezzo soprano Flora Macintosh plays Violetta’s friend and fills some of the gaps in a production that relies on the arias rather than recitative. The final piece of casting is Christopher Jacklin as Violetta’s ‘protector’ the Baron who also doubles as the Doctor.

Elspeth Wilkes is the musical director and the singers are accompanied by Piano, cello and clarinet.

This should prove another notch to the Kings Head list of successes.