What springs to mind when you hear the word ‘Opera?’ Is it fancy dresses and suits, those little binoculars and a whole tonne of Italian singing? If you answered yes, then you would be right when describing opening night of La Traviata at His Majesty’s Theatre for WA Opera, sans the binoculars.
Now this isn’t your typical Opera review. I have no idea about Sopranos or set design, nor have I ever been to the Opera before. What this review is going to share is why if you think the Opera isn’t for you, well you might be surprised.
Firstly, the Opera is an opportunity to dress up. Not just do your hair nicely type event. I’m taking a beautiful gown with a stoll and suits or tuxedos. How often do we get to do that in Perth outside of balls? The fashion was exquisite on opening night for La Traviata. I was unaware of this dress code and had a denim jacket on. Yes, I left my stoll at home.
The Opera is a space where you just feel like you are growing in cultural knowledge by osmosis. I heard some lovely ladies discussing the lead in the foyer following the show, and wow did I hear words I had never heard of, but I wanted to know more and learn.
Before I delve into the actual show, I want to share that yes, this was performed in Italian. As someone who hasn’t ventured to Italian with my DuoLingo subscription I was concerned, however I was relieved to see English subtitles above the stage. They did not detract and I feel gave just enough information that you could follow along, but not too much that you are distracted from the performance. This was another experience that was new to me, and I must say, I loved it.
To quote multiple Opera loving friends of mine, La Traviata is classic Opera. It is a fabulous first introduction and a great first experience and I couldn’t agree more.
La Traviata is coined as one of the greatest romances of all time. The storyline sees the courtesan (sex worker) Violetta and the aristocratic (Western Suburbs gent) Alfredo fall into a love that is passionate and achingly real. Asked to choose between her own happiness and joy, and the ongoing happiness of Alfredo and his family, Violetta has a heart breaking decision to make no matter which way she goes. The story shows us how far some will go to retain “virtue,” and what we truly do for love.
Verdi’s masterpiece has been recreated and is a brand new production directed by Australian Sarah Giles, showcasing an exceptionally talented cast of singers with Paul O’Neill, and introducing Samantha Clarke in her role debut as Violetta. To quote the ladies in the foyer post show, “Samantha has one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard.” Having never heard such a voice in real life, I was mesmerised, and could listen to Samantha sing every day.
Still to this day I am thinking about the music, the enchanting story and the fact that in so many moments we were given a brief subtitle, and then no further words were needed. Music has a way of bringing you in to its world. Add to this the set was amazing and I truly was in Paris. The movements between ‘location’ and scene on set was simply flawless. Yes, you see the stage changing in front of you, but it is all so beautifully done. Additional storyline is shared downstage in almost a shadow, and the lighting and subtle change in tone were truly beautiful. I found the experience much to take in and was slightly overwhelmed in the most alluring way.
I could not finish this without mentioning the live Orchestra. It is truly an experience within itself to have so much talent surrounding you, and it is hard not to be humbled by just how much goes in to being at this level of skill. Bravo!
I am planning on seeing La Traviata again during this season. My introduction to this new world has shifted my ability to experience a new genre of music, and I am longing to go back and learn more. As an Opera sceptic (I’m a 90’s girl who loves punk and rock music), I can tell you there is something magical about Opera. You will get lost in the world and you will be glad that you did.
Watch this space as I attend more WA Opera events and hopefully next year I’ll be the woman you’re listening to in the foyer inspiring you to come back again.
La Traviata is running through to the 29th October 22 at His Majesty’s Theatre and is a limited season.
For all the details on running times and to purchase tickets head to the WA Opera website here.
Thank you for the invitation to review the show WA Opera.