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La traviata; Les Vêpres siciliennes; LSO/ Haitink – review

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Theatre Royal, Glasgow; Royal Opera House; Barbican, London
David McVicar’s stylish Traviata is slow to ignite at Scottish Opera. At Covent Garden a rarity that’s great in parts. Plus, less is more with Bernard Haitink

Consumption – tuberculosis – has many nicknames. “White death” is the most chilling, a reference to the pallor that afflicts its victims. An unforgettable aspect of Scottish Opera’s La traviata, directed by David McVicar and designed by Tanya McCallin, is its use of monochrome. White flowers or muslin gown or bed sheets or Violetta’s ever more chalky complexion. Black satin drapes dividing the stage this way or that, at the end falling ominously across the windows, indicative of death. Splashes of colour, notably crimson or pink, intensify the feverish impact.

First seen in 2008 and since performed in Barcelona, Madrid, Geneva and at Welsh National Opera, this spectacular Tissot-Manet-inspired production is the main offering in Scottish Opera’s autumn season. Revived by Marie Lambert and conducted by David Parry, it began hesitantly, with the Act 1 party scene a little haphazard and the fire of love between Violetta and Alfredo needing rather more kindling. Then all changed.

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