Sofia Coppola’s La Traviata – Review ***

La traviata
Musica di Giuseppe Verdi
Opera in tre atti

Libretto di Francesco Maria Piave
da La Dame aux camélias di Alexandre Dumas

Nuova produzione creata da Valentino Garavani e Giancarlo Giammetti

DIRETTORE Jader Bignamini
REGIA Sofia Coppola
MAESTRO DEL CORO Roberto Gabbiani
SCENE Nathan Crowley
COSTUMI Valentino Garavani
CON LA COLLABORAZIONE DI Maria Grazia Chiuri e Pierpaolo Piccioli
COREOGRAFIA Stéphane Phavorin
LUCI Vinicio Cheli
VIDEO A CURA DI Officine K

INTERPRETI PRINCIPALI
VIOLETTA VALERY Francesca Dotto /
Maria Grazia Schiavo
ALFREDO GERMONT Antonio Poli /
Arturo Chacón-Cruz /
Matteo Desole
GIORGIO GERMONT Roberto Frontali /
Giovanni Meoni
FLORA Anna Malavasi
GASTONE, VISCONTE DI LÉTORIÈRES Andrea Giovannini
IL BARONE DOUPHOL Roberto Accurso
IL MARCHESE D'OBIGNY Andrea Porta
IL DOTTOR GRENVIL Graziano Dallavalle
ANNINA Chiara Pieretti

Orchestra, Coro e Corpo di Ballo del Teatro dell’Opera di Roma
Con sovratitoli in italiano e inglese
Con il supporto della Fondazione Valentino Garavani e Giancarlo Giammetti

Everyone who ever watched Marie Antoinette wondered how well would Sofia Coppola do with a bit of extravagant and over the top good old time opera. Thanks to a certain king of haute couture, we wonder no more, as Francis’s daughter was invited by Valentino himself to put her hands and wits to the famous La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi. The concept is not unheard of – in 1983, Franco Zeffirelli also staged Verdi’s opera, with no other than Placido Domingo as Alfredo.

For those not familiar with the plot, Violetta (Francesca Dotto), a Parisian socialite, spends her life going from party to party and man to man. But when a young man, Alfredo (Antonio Puli), declares his love for her, she lets herself fall for him, abandon the city and spend her days with him in rural contentment. Of course, things soon go awry for the two lovers, as Violetta is forced to let Alfredo go for his own good – and thus marks herself to die. Based on Alexandre Dumas La Dame aus Camélies, it has some of the most well-known Verdi arias, including Libiamo Ne’lieti Calici (Brindisi – The Drinking Song), and Un Di Felice, Eterea… 

La traviata Musica di Giuseppe Verdi Opera in tre atti Libretto di Francesco Maria Piave da La Dame aux camélias di Alexandre Dumas Nuova produzione creata da Valentino Garavani e Giancarlo Giammetti DIRETTORE Jader Bignamini REGIA Sofia Coppola MAESTRO DEL CORO Roberto Gabbiani SCENE Nathan Crowley COSTUMI Valentino Garavani CON LA COLLABORAZIONE DI Maria Grazia Chiuri e Pierpaolo Piccioli COREOGRAFIA Stéphane Phavorin LUCI Vinicio Cheli VIDEO A CURA DI Officine K INTERPRETI PRINCIPALI VIOLETTA VALERY Francesca Dotto / Maria Grazia Schiavo ALFREDO GERMONT Antonio Poli / Arturo Chacón-Cruz / Matteo Desole GIORGIO GERMONT Roberto Frontali / Giovanni Meoni FLORA Anna Malavasi GASTONE, VISCONTE DI LÉTORIÈRES Andrea Giovannini IL BARONE DOUPHOL Roberto Accurso IL MARCHESE D'OBIGNY Andrea Porta IL DOTTOR GRENVIL Graziano Dallavalle ANNINA Chiara Pieretti Orchestra, Coro e Corpo di Ballo del Teatro dell’Opera di Roma Con sovratitoli in italiano e inglese Con il supporto della Fondazione Valentino Garavani e Giancarlo Giammetti

If you’re expecting pink macaron towers, Japanese neons or just Kirsten Dunst, you may be in for a disappointment. Coppola’s La Traviata has a simple yet efficient stage decor that allows for the clothes to do most of the decorative talking. As Violetta dresses range between reds, blacks and whites – in an allegory for her soul –  the party scenes resemble a 19th century painting, full of chiaroscuro, as black and pale rose blend in the background. The beautiful staircase, from which Violetta makes her grand entrance, is unfortunately only used on Act 1.

Francesca Dotto gives Violetta a modern quality, as her cynicism and (later) vulnerability play perfectly well against Antonio Puli’s essentially good natured and somewhat naive Alfredo. Dotto’s voice may not be as arresting as other performers (Dame Jane Sutherland will always have a place in every opera lover’s heart on that regard), but the strength of her performance, underlined by the up close we could only get in a filmed performance, does move, particularly on  her performance of Sempre Libera, and, of course, on her dramatic ending.

Yasuko Kageyama-Teatro dell'Opera di Roma 2015-16_2106

As the record of what must have been an impressive live performance, La Traviata gives us the basic, and not much more than that. The paint-by-numbers filming approach is used, and though we do win from seeing certain scenes up close, it does not try to raise above filmed theatre. Regarding the directing itself, Sofia Coppola fails to give us something new, not daring to go too far or modern on the staging, which – when comparing with other recent stagings, like the 2014 Met Opera starring Marina Rebeka – makes us wonder, if she has just settled into safe grounds. Certainly her new film, The Beguiled, premiering in the UK on 14th July 2017, will give us an answer to that question.

 

 

La Traviata will be in selected UK cinemas on 9th July 2017. 

Sara is originally from Coimbra, Portugal, where she studied Film Studies before moving to London to enrol in film school. Having made her first short film about her neighbour's chickens when she was 9 (a dystopian sci-fi, still her favourite genre), she is now a London-based film director and editor, and also a writer for the Portuguese Take Magazine. She is a huge fan of Lars Von Trier, Krysztof Kiéslowski, and David Lean.