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Despite the elaborate production, the world's most successful opera conquered Israel as well - voila! culture


Verdi's La Traviata, which was the first opera performed in the Land of Israel, returns to Tel Aviv with a prestigious and glittering production (literally).

Despite the elaborate production, the world's most successful opera conquered Israel as well

Verdi's La Traviata, which was the first opera performed in the Land of Israel, returns to Tel Aviv with a prestigious and glittering production (literally).

Despite the attempt to impose modernity on the classic story, the impressive performances of the choir and of Hila Baggio in the main role of Violetta make the production a success

Salon associate


Tuesday, 02 August 2022, 10:48 Updated: 11:12

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La Traviata (Photo: Yossi Tzbaker)

While the country is in turmoil, and rightfully so, over an affair in which rich and famous men allegedly took advantage of their fame to spend time in bed with 15-year-old girls - it is interesting to recall the story of Marie Duplessi, which shows how much the morals of the world have changed in 200 years.

and better this way.

Marie was born in 1824 in the cooperative village of Nonno-le-Pen in the department of Oren in northern France.

From a young age (very, very young) she realized that men were attracted to her, precisely because of her childish smile and her boyish figure.

She realized that men were willing to pay money to be with her.

She was only 15 when she moved to Paris and became a courtesan.

A washed-up, almost romantic nickname for the oldest profession in the world.

Duplessi used to walk around with flowers in her cleavage.

White flowers signified that she was free, while red flowers signified that she was on her period, therefore not available for sexual services.

With the money and status she acquired from spending time with the powerful men of Paris, she bought herself an education.

She learned to read and write and became interested in topics around the world, from politics to culture.

Her clients loved her for her mysterious beauty and slim body, but also enjoyed her fluent conversation.

She made a name for herself as one of the wittiest women in Paris.

La Traviata (Photo: Yossi Tzbaker)

When she was 20, Duplessi met Alexandre Dumas Jr.

The bastard who earned the nickname "King of Paris" lived his whole life in the shadow of his father, the famous writer who wrote "The Count of Monte Cristo" and "The Three Musketeers".

Compared to his revered father, Dumas the younger wrote about his real life.

For example, he wrote "The Illegal Son", a play whose moral is that a man who impregnates a woman should marry her (something his father did not do).

Dumas Jr.'s meeting with Marie Duplessis would make him a famous writer in his own right.

The brief affair between Duplessis and Dumas was the background to The Lady with the Camellias, one of the most celebrated French classics of all time - both for its uncompromising depictions of 19th century Parisian culture and for its ahead-of-its-time critique of morals.

It's a tragic love story, and a heartbreaking human story.

Duplessi, like her literary character, would die at age 23 (scholars disagree whether death was caused by tuberculosis or venereal disease, as if it matters).

Her life story will be adapted for the stage, will become "La Traviata", one of the most successful operas of all time and will also form the basis of the movie "Moulin Rouge".

La Traviata is still one of the most loved operas in the world.

Basically, it's worth rewording: La Traviata is the most successful and most sought-after opera in the world - which receives the most performances every year for decades.

This is probably the most performed opera ever.

From the Second World War until the outbreak of the Corona epidemic, it was impossible to find a year in which the opera was not performed in one of the largest opera houses in the world.

In 1923, when an Israeli opera production was staged for the first time at the Eden Cinema in Little Tel Aviv - the choice of "La Traviata" was almost natural.

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La Traviata at the Israeli Opera (Photo: Yossi Tzbaker)

The Israeli Opera is returning these days to the first operatic work staged in Tel Aviv, with a modern and sparkling (sometimes literal) production of Verdi's masterpiece.

I will state in advance that I was less connected to the direction of Alessandro Talbi, who transferred the plot to our time in a somewhat clumsy way.

The choice to present the longing for freedom of Violetta, the heroine of the opera, against the background of an orgy did not add playfulness to the opera, but rather obscured the complexity of Verdi's opera, which in the recent past was considered extreme in its ideas - without using extroverted sexuality on stage.

Also the use of the grand opera stage as a kind of fashion show felt like a gimmick that didn't justify itself.

It's possible that serious fashion lovers like me enjoyed the matter, but in my eyes it not only didn't add but rather took over the musical experience.

To be sure, the musical experience was almost perfect.

The word "almost", without a choice, will always be attached to any soloist - no matter how good - who enters the character of Violetta.

This is one of the most challenging roles in the operatic canon.

Each act requires a different vocal ability, as if Verdi even intended to divide the singing parts between several different singers.

The Israeli Hila Bajio gave a better performance than ever.

She coped brilliantly with the challenging first act, but really impressed with the dramatic sections of the second act, and the lyrical and tragic sections of the third act.

La Traviata (Photo: Yossi Tzbaker)

In the digital world we live in, it's hard for an opera singer to deal with the fact that any of us can go on YouTube and hear Maria Callas as Violetta.

It is doubtful that anyone will ever be able to recreate the perfect performance of the ultimate diva.

To Bagio's credit, it should be noted that she does not (like many others) try to imitate Callas, but instead displays her magnificent abilities while successfully dealing with her "volume" limitation in the huge space of the tabernacle.

It was also the beautiful hour of the chorus of the Israeli Opera, which together with Dan Ettinger's orchestra presented strength and precision.

The line between a powerful performance and a flashy performance is very thin, and it seems that Ettinger managed to bring the choir right to the edge, to the delight of the Israeli audience who love their opera as much as they love their coffee - the stronger and more powerful, the better.

The Romanian baritone Yunus Pasco, who previously performed quite a few successful roles in the opera, returned for another successful turn as the father of the lover Alfredo.

The duets between him and Bajio were among the successful moments in the production.

Precisely the Italian tenor Oreste Cosimo, who came to the first production of the Israeli opera with an impressive repertoire, including performances at La Scala and other large opera houses - was a bad surprise with a rather anemic performance as Alfredo.

In the third act, it seems that something in him opened up a little.

Maybe I caught him on a bad night, or maybe his decidedly impressive voice is better suited for a concert performance.

This is one of the most beautiful tragic love stories ever written, except that something in the stilted production and the disappointing dramatic abilities of the lover managed to miss the drama.

Still, it's hard to make complaints in front of the impressive musical performances, and indeed - the audience that filled the opera house to the brim stood for long minutes and continued to applaud Ettinger and the orchestra.

That's the whole story.

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Source: walla

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