|David Pomeroy (Alfredo) and Laquita Mitchell (Violetta) Photo (c) Pavel Antonov|
Although I was unimpressed with the production overall, Elena Araoz' revival direction did have the merit of supporting Verdi and Piave's vivid little character sketches in Act I: Gaston, Flora, and, most ominously, Douphol, were sharply realized. For the rest, emotional repression tentatively overcome seemed to predominate; I understand this better as a directorial choice for Jane Eyre than for Traviata. Among smaller roles, Karin Mushegain's Flora stood out. Her characterization was strong, her voice expressive, and she shaped her phrases with flirtatious relish. Kenneth Overton was a richly sonorous Dr. Grenvil. As Germont père, Stephen Powell gave what I thought was the finest performance of the evening. His singing was elegant, powerful, and passionate, delineating the aging man's journey from obstinate moralizing to compassion and penitence with moving precision. David Pomeroy must, I think, have had an off night. His singing was workmanlike, but often sounded forced. In the title role, Laquita Mitchell gave a portrayal of a woman fiercely committed to life. This fierceness was the keynote of her Violetta; I could have wished for some more nuance in creating emotional contrasts, but found myself moved nonetheless. Mitchell's soprano proved rich and lustrous, credibly commanding both in the scenes of Parisian revelry and in more intimate exchanges. She rode close to the bottom of the pitch at times, but sang charismatically. After the final applause, audience members around me were abuzz with shock and dismay at Violetta's death, which perhaps is the greatest tribute to this Traviata: they'll be back for more.