Saturday, December 15, 2012

La Traviata Bruxelloise

The World's best TV --Arte of course!-- will be live broadcasting the new production of La Traviata from the World's best opera house -- La Monnaie/DeMunt -- in a little more than an hour time [20:00 CET].

Andrea Breth, one of the most talented and most accomplished theater directors today, produced the show [I saw her recent Wozzeck and Lulu at the Staatsoper in Berlin (UdL) and loved them both immensely; I also saw (with some delay) her Kat'a Kabanova also staged in Brussels, that matched in quality the famous Christoph Marthaler production -- which should be by now in textbooks], Adam Fischer conducts the LaMonnaie orchestra, which will be a curiosity on its own [Fischer is huge in Mozart operas, and I can only guess the level of subtleties in conducting La Traviata],  and the cast looks exactly what you would expect from the incomparable Peter de Caluwe: the role of Violetta will be sung by a lesser known Simona Saturova, Alfredo by always passionate Sébastien Guèze, Giorgio by our top-fave Scott Hendricks, and the cast for smaller roles is quite delicately composed too.

So, after two horrid live streamed production from the Munich Opera and tragic productions from The Met [live broadcast in the cinemas all over the world, unfortunately], here is the second super-promising show from Brussels that gives us hope that opera is not dead art [unforgettable production of Lulu in October was also produced at LaMonnaie/DeMunt].

Arte Live Web video is embedded below. Enjoy ;)


  • Bye the way, the fascinating production of Médée that we saw in Brussels last year arrived to Paris and is currently running at Théâtre des Champs Élysées. It's the Warlikowski production and it should be seen live, at the theater (his shows are always special events -- incomparable with what you can see in video). 
  • Thinking of Andrea Breth, I should recommend you once again her production of Eugene Onegin that she produced in Salzburg 2007 and it is available on DVD. It's maybe not as fascinating and troubling as the Tcherniakov production, but it is the best among the rest. BTW, Stefan Herheim did a good job with that opera in Amsterdam (also available on DVD)
  • La Traviata on DVD: there are many but very few are good. Konwitschny production is the most interesting to me, followed by the one staged by Willy Decker with the most fascinating Netrebko and Villazon singing their hearts out,  and the Sivadier show presented at the Festival in Aix en Provence last year. Unfortunately the amazing Marthaler production presented in Paris 5 years ago, with Christine Schäfer and Jonas Kaufmann, was not recorded but you can enjoy the video excerpts  on YouTube...
  • I just realized that someone uploaded the whole Marthaler show on YouTube (YAY!) -- the sound sucks but hey!!! 

This is what the Paris Opera should have recorded [instead of the catastrophic production of Le Nozze or even worse Andrea Chénier... but that's a different problem] In any case try and see this show [La Traviata by Marthaler] more than once, to catch the details. It is unbelievably well produced, directed, conducted, acted and sung. It's refreshing in every possible way...
Oh yes, I LOVE Christine Schäfer!
  • Interestingly, Robert Carsen --whose productions are often excellent-- failed with La Traviata (also on DVD). It's tepid, uninspiring and the acting is over the top... 
    Other productions that are available on DVD are bad or really-really bad (I did not see this one!)
  •  Just saw on YouTube: the whole Trebs/Villazon show can be seen here, and a good example of how this opera should NOT be produced can be seen here.
  • I was told that the Benedikt von Peter production of La Traviata was one of the best opera shows ever. It opened the 2011-2012 season at the Staatsoper in Hannover. It was innovative, troubling, different... and almost hypnotized the crowd. Nicole Chevalier sang the title role and was apparently amazing: Benedikt decided La Traviata is one-woman show and it was all about the psycho-analysis of Violetta. The action depicts what happens in the head of Violetta. Alfredo, Fiorgio, the orchestra and all other singers were placed behind the front-stage where Nicole Chevalier was delivering a performance of her life. For us who could not see the show, here is a little excerpt (to drool):

  • OK, La Traviata from Brussels is about to start [10 mins delay]. In bocca al lupo everyone! Allez, c'est parti!
  •  You can listen to the same opera on  Radio Classique.
  •  Is it me or Simona Saturova looks and sings like Angela Gheorghiu 15 years ago?! Hope she acts better than Angie ;) 
  • Attention to details: 100 francs bill to sniff cocaine! 
  • Carole Wilson -- impeccable as ever! Simona Saturova sings very well. Hopefully we'll get to listen to her singing live. 
  • Second Act is beautiful! At the theater it certainly feels much better (that's one big advantage of La Monnaie wrt the other opera houses).  
  • Sébastien Guèze is scenically wonderful: he acts very well and his boyish looks add hugely to the credibility of Alfredo. So far he sings good too. Scott Hendricks is vocally the strongest so far.
  • Excellent Act 2. I realize I still love this opera :) 
  • Simona is good. Unfortunately I saw half of the above video of the Marthaler production with Christine Schäfer who killed the role of Violeta Valéry so it's hard to fully appreciate anyone after Christine. 
  • Short break and time to recommend you two gems from Denmark: The Hunt (Jagten) by Thomas Vinterberg with outstanding Mads Mikkelsen, and the TV show Borgen that gained in popularity in France thanks to Arte.
  • Superb Simona and Sébastien! 
  • Good show.  Merci La Monnaie!


  1. I had the impression that Marthaler/Cambreling Figaro in its premiere in Salzburg (2001) sounded much differently - a true music theater although I only listened to the radio. The atmosphere was quite contrary to Paris reproduction and something were much more delicate. I'm no sure whether you agree or not...or are you referring to the latest one in Bastille? (which is, I must say, nothing to do with the fantastic original by Strehler back to 70s any more.)

    La Traviata in Garnier was splendidly filmed in HD and is now in the catalogue of Telmondis. I completely agree with you and was also very impressed with the parallelism with the old Chéreau production of Lulu in the same place. I have no idea whether it will be out as DVD/Blu-ray (I asked Ms. Schäfer / Maestro Cambreling and their replies were rather prospective that time, but years have passed since then...). It's no good to watch in such low quality.

    1. Years ago I asked Schäfer why that Traviata isn't being released on DVD and she told me that Decca is the problem due to Kaufmann who is under contract with them and they do not want to release it commercially.