Arts Reviews

“A Great Company To Watch”- Theatre Review: La Triviata @ Theatre Royal

Jasmine Butler

La Triviata is a dramatic three-part opera by Giuseppe Verdi. Originally titled Violetta, after the main character, this play is memorable in so many ways. For three nights only, Opera North have bought La Triviata to Nottingham’s Theatre Royal. Impact‘s Jasmine Butler attended Tuesday’s performance, and reviews.

As a Northern fan of theatre, both opera and musicals, I’ve been to see a couple of Opera North productions before, but this was my first solo theatre trip. It was exciting and scary going by myself, but as I sat in the stalls listening to the orchestra tune up, I remembered that my love of theatre made it worth it.

A projected eye looks out

The opening act is beautifully staged, with a huge bed as the central set piece upon which the chorus lounge. A backdrop of mottled brown brings attention to the hole in the centre of it, from which a projected eye looks out into the audience. The design is clever, and brings a sense of things not being quite as well as the characters portray.

Alison Langer plays Violetta, a courtesan who throws lavish parties and lives life entirely for pleasure. It’s at this party that the opening act is set, wherein she is wooed by Nico Darmanin’s Alfredo. The performance is full of colour and life, with a sexual and flirtatious chorus paralleling the love and romance of the couple. The talent of the performers is incredible; Alison holds the audience in the palm of her hand. 

The old fashioned views on display are entirely of the time it was written

The second act slows in pace, and whilst the performers’ voices are incredible, the story isn’t quite as involved. Violetta leaves Alfredo when Alfredo’s father asks her to, in order to defend Alfredo’s honour. The old fashioned views on display are entirely of the time it was written, however, to a modern audience, they make the characters harder to believe. There is a lot of standing and singing, with very little action, which makes the opera visually less interesting. The audience was of a slightly older generation, and a few rows behind me, an old man had fallen asleep and was snoring during the show, which added a bit of unforeseen humour to it!

Men in suits and white masks seemingly laughing at her death

However the third act brings the emotion and interest back, with Violetta on her deathbed and Alfredo returning. The stage is incredible, with a singular white bed centre stage for Violetta, and behind her, steps with men in suits and white masks seemingly laughing at her death. The sense that men in this play have ruined Violetta’s life and have very little remorse for it is really seen here. The image created by the men at the back is striking, and adds a whole new level to the play.

As someone who loves theatre but can find opera intimidating, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the subtitles did an incredible job in ensuring that I understood what was said, without detracting from the action onstage. There are moments without the subtitles, because the emotions of the actors are clear through the music alone.

Nottingham Theatre Royal is a beautiful venue, and perfectly accented the set and costumes of the performance; the grandure of it all only made Violetta’s demise all the more heartbreaking.

It was an incredible performance, and Opera North are a great company to watch if, like me, you’re not an officanado of opera just yet. Going to the show alone was daunting at first, and the intervals at times did feel scary, but the moment the performance starts you’re so incredibly lost in the music and the action that it doesn’t matter at all. 

Jasmine Butler

Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.

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