Opera Go Traviata (Go Opera)

Hackney-based opera company Go Opera made their debut last night with their own adaptation of Verdi’s masterpiece La Traviata aptly named ‘Go Traviata’ which was performed in a warehouse in Hackney. Ceasefire's opera critic, Paul Guest, reviews a "unique experience".

Classical & Opera, New in Ceasefire - Posted on Thursday, June 2, 2011 2:01 - 1 Comment

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Wednesday 1st June 2011

By Paul Guest

‘Go Traviata’, Go Opera
Verdi

Rosalind Parker, director.
Michael Waldron, music director

Joanna Weeks, Alastair Digges, James Hancock, Chloe Malonly, Elinor Jane Moran, Joseph Thomas Ford.

Hackney-based opera company Go Opera made their debut last night with their own adaptation of Verdi’s masterpiece La Traviata aptly named ‘Go Traviata’ which was performed in a warehouse in Hackney.

A unique experience on many accounts: the staging, the sets and the space are all unique in their own way. The experience of even going to Hackney to see an opera is unique in itself- what was I expecting?

Admittedly, this is a difficult one to review: The point of the production was to be an introduction to those intimidated by opera at the two “distinguished” opera houses in central London. Well, I am not intimidated by opera nor am I an ‘opera virgin’ and this production was therefore not aimed at me. One more note before I go on: This is NOT OperaUpClose- in fact, it’s much better.

Go Opera changed the length of the production to a reasonable hour and a half by cutting out the ‘boring bits’. There was no dawdling here. There was also no outcry about a badly translated libretto; the opera remained in its original Italian state while patrons followed a printed translation (which came with a free torch in order to continue to follow in moments of darkness) – The adaptation was clean and true (somewhat) to the original plot.

The singing was also superb – Most of these singers are still training in London’s best conservatories. Joanna Weeks powered through Violetta’s diva state to sing a more refined and precise character with clear vocal presence and clarity. With moments of characteristic weakness, she sings a convincingly and wonderfully dramatic Violetta.

Alistair Digges is our Alfredo; attractive and charming with moments of vocal supremacy; he was very clear although naturally, as usually is the case with younger singers, the full tenor voice hasn’t yet settled in – but it’s there. The ensemble sings with excitement and power while our accompaniment doesn’t quite go without fault played by Michael Waldron on the piano and by violinist Emma Kraemer – I was at a bit of a loss at the addition of a violin as I’m not sure it added anything particularly significant to the music.

The decision to keep the libretto in its original Italian form was an inspired and well thought-out idea- When translating the libretto into English you are changing sounds and phrasing for the singing; also you can very easily lose the fluency of the piece and then the dramatic narrative is lost into poorly translated phrases, so that the libretto cannot keep up with the score.

The innovative set and designs as well as the style of the staging and production itself brought a new triumphant master to the world of fringe opera- and I say this lightly and not from my own perspective but that of the audiences that Go Opera are trying to reach; the operatically uninitiated.

Of course, the audience might not have analysed the opera as I have done above, but this production, I’m certain, will speak to people; young people; people with intrigue and desire; young people who want to become more culturally involved and those who might have previously been intimidated by such an art-form surrounded in elitism.

This production and its success (the run had sold out long before opening night) is an important part of operatic development and do indeed challenge existing notions of what opera is and what it should be. A very good development indeed.

Paul Guest is Ceasefire‘s Opera critic. He also writes for Classical Music Magazine, Gramophone and is the resident interviewer at Opera Britannia.

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Opera – An unusual venue: The Yard, Hackney – Ceasefire Magazine
Sep 21, 2011 15:06

[…] London has become a hub for new ways of presenting opera with Go Opera’s production of Verdi’s La Traviata in a warehouse and then Vignette Production’s updated La Boheme, in the Village Underground- a […]

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