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[Herald Review] KNO’s ‘La Traviata’ brilliantly produced, vividly sung

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Published : 2014-04-28 20:37
Updated : 2014-04-28 20:37

The Korea National Opera’s latest performance of “La Traviata” on Sunday has raised the local standards of Giuseppe Verdi’s most beloved opera by every measure, with impressive singing and acting by the lead characters, sumptuous sets and sublime music.

Canadian soprano Joyce El-Khoury was convincing as Violetta Valery, the sick Parisian courtesan who finds her true love, Alfredo, just as her life draws to a close.

Although her coloratura in the first act wasn’t so impressive, she gave a vivid and spectacular performance overall, often pulling off difficult arias while lying flat on her back. 
Tenor Kang Yosep and soprano Joyce El-Khoury play lovers Alfredo and Violetta in Korea National Opera’s production of “La Traviata” last week at Seoul Arts Center, southern Seoul. (KNO)

As director Arnaud Bernard said during a press conferance about two weeks ago, the production had a strong dramatic sense, backed by the solid acting of the lead singers.

“Opera is not a concert by some dressed-up singers. It is a drama. ‘La Traviata’ is a story of a sick prostitute,” he said. The French opera director noted that he would accentuate dramatic effects through the expression of violence, both emotional and physical.

His intention seems to have been well executed, particularly in the second act.

Tenor Kang Yosep commanded a strong presence on stage as the furious and jealous Alfredo after the apparent betrayal of Violetta.

His voice was not booming, but he captivated the audience with powerful acting (he jumped, ran and even spit at Violetta’s new lover Baron Douphol) and expressive singing, particularly in the scene where Alfredo takes his revenge on Violetta, denouncing her in front of party guests and hurling money at her face.

Baritone You Dong-jik was solid both vocally and dramatically as Germont, Alfredo’s father, who persuades Violetta to leave his son to save the family’s honor.

The KNO last staged “La Traviata” eight years ago.

The rendition of the Verdi masterpiece on Sunday seemed to have pleased many in the audience, judging by the loud applause after its famous arias and at the end of the performance.

During the intermission, a woman said she enjoyed the production so much, she had come to see it for a second time.

“I watched the performance by a different team the other day. I enjoyed it so much and became so curious about the other team’s performance,” she said.

Before the curtain rose, the orchestra played Edvard Grieg’s “Solveig’s Song” in darkness, paying tribute to the victims of the sunken ferry Sewol. Patrick Lange took charge in the pit.

By Lee Sun-young (milaya@heraldcorp.com)

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