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Opera: La Traviata

Verdi's tragic love story is a triumph for the WNO

La Traviata
Millennium Centre Cardiff/Touring

5 Stars

Lush, operatic, romantic, passionate. They're just a few of the adjectives to describe Welsh National Opera's triumphant production of Verdi's La Traviata.

Its heroine Violetta Valery is a glamorous Parisian courtesan and the gorgeous stage setting of her Paris salon, where men are entertained by beautiful and available women, oozes luxury and the requisite amount of seediness.

The WNO chorus are on fabulous form and act their socks off in a raucous and lively display of hedonism while Linda Richardson as the hostess Valery, lover of Baron Douphol (Jack O'Kelly), brings her character to vivid life.

It's easy to understand why the impressionable young Alfredo Germont (Peter Sonn) has fallen in love with her. He sings of his love for Violetta in the opening act and persuades her that despite her lifestyle she can fall in love for the first time.

The two live together in blissful harmony until Germont's father Giorgio - the superb Peter Opie - confronts Violetta and persuades her to leave his son because of her unsavoury past, an affront to "polite society."

In the end, nobility of character and essential goodness prevail and in the final heart-wrenching scene, we only have eyes for Violetta and Alfredo.

The intensity that Richardson and Sonn bring to this tear-jerking finale is mirrored in the audience's emotional response.

The acting of the whole ensemble is first class, bringing realism to what can sometimes come across as absurd and their interpretative powers are such that we are wholly engaged in Verdi's tragic love story.

Anybody who loves musical theatre should grab the chance to get a ticket to this first-rate production.

Runs until March 1, box office: (029) 2063-5000, then tours until April 12, details: www.wno.org.uk

David Nicholson

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