La Traviata. Teatro La Fenice, Venice 2004. Production: Robert Carsen. Cast: Patrizia Ciofi (Violetta), Roberto Saccá (Alfredo), Dmitri Hvorostovsky (Germont pére). Conductor: Lorin Maazel. Further information here.
This Robert Carsen production of La Traviata was chosen for the reopening of Teatro La Fenice in 2004, the place of the Traviata world-premiere in 1853.
Robert Carsen´s concept is strong: This Traviata is about prostitution as a phenomenon, not about Violetta as a person. His view is a cynical one, in which all the men only are interested in Violetta´s past, present or future potential for providing sexual satisfaction.
The action is transferred to the 1970´s. Violetta is a celebrity prostitute. During the prelude she is payed for her services. Alfredo is a paparazzi photographing her right from the beginning at the sleazy party where they meet. He keeps photographing her amidst a floor covered with money-resembling-leaves in Act 2. Money is continuously thrown around. Also Germont pére is willing to pay for Violetta´services. Sex and money is not subtly hinted at but blatantly put out.
Flora´s party takes place in a nightclub with ditto dancers. In the end Violetta sits in an empty warehouse flipping through her photos - her empty life as a celebrity prostitute is over.
I find the concept extraordinarily inventive and well-executed, but as most will have guessed by now: This is not a traditional La Traviata. For a traditional production, look here.
Patrizia Ciofi is a compelling Violetta, primarily through her vocal as well as physical acting. Her voice is not particularly beautiful and furthermore she tends to be sharp, but she delivers a very convincing portrait of Violetta´s transformation from self-absorbed prostitute to dying woman.
Dmitri Hvorostovsky seems more engaged than usual and while he physically is completely believable as the photographer, vocally Roberto Saccá is the weak link of the production.
Lorin Maazel, who apparently did not like the production, nevertheless conducted an excellent performance.
Finally: Why do all TDK releases have such boring covers? One almost does not believe that the content may be interesting.
Patrizia Ciofi with Amami Alfredo:
The bottom line (scale of 1-5, 3=average):
Patrizia Ciofi: 4
Roberto Saccá: 3
Dmitri Hvorostovsky: 3
Lorin Maazel: 4
Robert Carsen´s production: 5
Overall impression: 5