New cast keeps Met’s “Traviata” exciting, musically and dramatically

Fri Jan 06, 2023 at 12:14 pm
By Rick Perdian
Ermonela Jaho is Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata at the Metropolitan Opera.

With the recent holiday rush, you might not have noticed that La traviata wasn’t playing at the Metropolitan Opera for the past few weeks. The first run of the season with Nadine Sierra as Violetta only ended in mid-November and it’s back already. 

This time around, it remains aterrific show, now with Ermonela Jaho in the title role and the exciting house debuts of Ismael Jordi as Alfredo and Amartuvshin Enkhbat as Giorgio Germont.

Michael Mayer’s production wears well. Christine Jones creates a luxurious setting of golden filagree against turquoise walls that serves for all four acts. The furniture is even the same throughout. Susan Hilferty’s jewel-tone customs may not be subtle, but the are vibrant and eye catching. There is far more sensitivity in Kevin Adams’s lighting that creates mood and emotion with the efficiency that is a hallmark of the staging. 

Jaho, who made her Met debut as Violetta in 2008, is an exquisite heroine, whose frailty is evident from the start as coughing spells rack her slender frame. No complaints can be lodged that this Violetta appears too healthy in Act 1 to be dying of consumption in the final act.

There is a brittleness to her ill-fated courtesan than only disappears briefly in Act II. First, in the opening scene when she is blissfully in love with Alfredo, and later after she has acquiesced to his father’s demands that she leave his son. Otherwise, Jaho’s Violetta is acutely aware that she is a commodity and her glamorous life the result of a series of successful commercial transactions.

The purity and beauty of Jaho’s singing makes her Violetta even more emotionally compelling. She spins out plangent music phrases of shimmering sound. Her coloratura is immaculate and high notes pop out clear and effortlessly. Jaho is that rare soprano who is as convincing in the bravura “Sempre libre”, as in Violetta’s heart-aching farewell to love and life in “Addio, del passato.”

Act II, however, packed the most emotional wallop. Jaho’s Violetta and Enkhbat’s Giorgio Germont were a study in contrasts, with her physical and vocal delicacy being the opposite of his powerful baritone and commanding stage presence.

Jaho began “Dite alla giovine, sì bella e pura”, with a mere whisper of sound, as she accedes to Germont’s demands. Enkhbat’s pianissimos, however, almost equalled Jaho’s in terms of beauty and transparency. You could hear his heart melting as he discerned the depth of her love for his son. His “Di Provenza il mar” drew the loudest and longest ovation of the night.

It’s exhilarating to experience such a large voice, but it was the nuance in Enkhbat’s singing that was so impressive. An explosion of applause greeted Enkhbat when he took his solo bow.

Ismael Jordi’s Alfredo added to the excitement. The tenor cut a dashing, but brooding figure as Alfredo, whose rashness, stood in stark contrast to the more controlled emotions of Jaho’s Violetta and Enkhbat’s Germont. Jordi sang with abandon whether soaring through the Drinking Song or expressing joy in “De’ miei bollenti spiriti … Il giovanile ardore”.

Jaho and Jordi’s impassioned duets added even more fire to the drama. When singing together at full volume, their voices almost sound as one. It was a magical.

Another compelling aspect of Jordi’s performance was his connection to the text. There was a conversational element to his singing in his middle range that was particularly effective in communicating Alfredo’s emotions. Equally intriguing was the sinuousness he brought to a musical line. Free and easy high notes were the icing on the cake.

Rhythmic vitality coursed through every measure of the score. Conductor Marco Armiliato’s sense of balance and timing was impeccable.

The Met Orchestra was as integral component of the emotional and musical performance as any of the singers. Every time the Met Chorus appeared on stage, a bolt of energy went through the house. The Act III ballet bristled with danger. Dancers were tossed about the stage with reckless abandon. If anyone was expecting a routine, mid-season performance of one of an operatic war horse, they were in for a surprise.

The current La traviata cast runs through January 26. The production returns with the third and final cast of the season on March 4.

One Response to “New cast keeps Met’s “Traviata” exciting, musically and dramatically”

  1. Posted Jan 06, 2023 at 10:46 pm by Magdalene RUZZA

    Attended last night (Thursday 5 Jan) . An exhiliariating evening,

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