Introducing... La traviata

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The latest in our Introducing series looks at Festival 2017’s revival of Verdi’s La traviata.

In Festival 2017, in a first for Glyndebourne, La traviata will receive two runs – 21 May-19 June and 1-27 August – giving you more opportunities to see this much loved opera. The two runs feature different conductors and different singers in the lead roles. Find out more below.

In this short video we talk to designer Hildegard Bechtler about her inspiration for the sets and costumes of this stylish production.

Need to know

Since its first performance in 1853 La traviata has become one of the most frequently performed operas in the world and features many famous arias. The opera has inspired many other works, and its influence can be seen in films such as Pretty Woman and Moulin Rouge.

The opera tells the story of Violetta, a courtesan who finds love with Alfredo. However, Alfredo’s father, Giorgio Germont, disapproves of the relationship. He persuades Violetta to leave Alfredo for the sake of the family’s reputation. Violetta agrees, with heartbreaking consequences.

Tom Cairns’s production of La traviata debuted at Festival 2014. Photo: Richard Hubert Smith.

Why this production?

In this production director Tom Cairns and designer Hildegard Bechtler chose to focus on the timeless nature of the story, with the aim of creating ‘an opera for all times’ rather than one rooted in a particular period.

‘The most important thing was not to be too visually specific, in terms of the set design, but to suggest a certain element of grandeur and style and money – the higher end of living in which it’s possible for these events to play out.’
—Tom Cairns, Director

With its well-known tunes and a glimpse into the dazzling world of high society, La traviata is the perfect opera to introduce friends and family to Glyndebourne. Get a taste of the production in this trailer:

Cast and creative team

The two runs of La traviata will feature different singers in the main roles and different conductors.

Conducting from 21 May-19 June is Richard Farnes, who was Music Director at Opera North from 2004 to 2016. His previous work at Glyndebourne, where he laid the foundations for his career, includes The Makropoulos Case (1997), Otello (2001) and Flight (2005).

Taking up the baton for August performances is Andrés Orozco-Estrada. Born in Colombia and trained in Vienna, Andrés has been the Principal Guest Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra since 2015. He previously conducted Don Giovanni at Festival 2014.

The two Violettas: Kristina Mkhitaryan and Joyce El-Khoury will both play the role in Festival 2017. Kristina Mkhitaryan image © Emil Matveev. Joyce El-Khoury image by Fay Fox. Courtesy of Columbia Artists Management Inc.

Our first Violetta of 2017 will be Russian soprano Kristina Mkhitaryan. A graduate of the Galina Vishnevskaya Theatre Studio, Moscow, Kristina went on to join the Young Artist Programme at the Bolshoi, where she remains a regular cast member.

Our August Violetta is Lebanese-Canadian soprano Joyce El-Khoury. A graduate of the prestigious Lindemann Young Artists Development Program at the Metropolitan Opera, she is a First Prize winner in many competitions including the Loren L Zachary Competition, the Opera Index Competition, the George London Foundation and the Mario Lanza Vocal Competition.

Zach Borichevsky as Alfredo in the Tour 2014 production of La traviata. Photo: Clive Barda.

Zach Borichevsky, frequently described as one of opera’s most exciting new vocal talents, returns to the role of Alfredo in May and June, having played the part at Glyndebourne in Tour 2014 to great critical acclaim. Zach has recently made his Metropolitan Opera debut.

In August Alfredo will be played by Brazilian tenor Atalla Ayan. Atalla made a surprise debut with the Metropolitan Opera, singing five arias in the company’s opening summer concert in Central Park at less than 24 hours’ notice. He’s been described by The New York Times as ‘a find; he has a warm, rounded tone with a quality that calls to mind the young Placido Domingo’.

Russian baritone Igor Golovatenko returns to Glyndebourne for the first time since his acclaimed performance as Severo in 2015’s Poliuto, playing Giorgio in the first run of La traviata. He’s been a cast member at the Bolshoi since 2014.

Giorgio will be played by Greek baritone Dimitri Platanias for the August run. A regular at the Royal Opera House, he’s considered one of the foremost Verdi baritones of his generation.

Things to look out for

La traviata features some of the best known and loved music in the operatic repertoire. This video of Michael Fabiano and Venera Gimadieva singing the famous brindisi (drinking song) in Festival 2014 has become our most popular video on YouTube, with over 350,000 views.

We hope you’ll raise your glasses with us to Festival 2017 and enjoy this exquisite performance of a timeless classic:

Enhance your experience

Insider talk
The allure of La traviata – Monday 7 August

Pre-performance talk
Join us for a bite-sized overview of the opera on Sunday 28 May

The Festival 2017 Programme Book will feature a look back at the singers who have played the role of Violetta at Glyndebourne over the years. The Programme Book is published in May 2017.

La traviata is generously supported by a Syndicate of Individuals