Alex Burns (Classicalexburns), August 2019
Another summer comes round and that means one thing for us opera lovers – Opera on Location offer another unique production of a well-loved opera. After last year’s outstanding production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, the talented Sheffield-based opera company brought a Verdi favourite to the Steel City. La traviata was composed in 1855, and was originally set in early 19th Century Paris. True to their name, Opera on Location catapulted this popular story line into today’s world, successfully connecting with all who enter into it. Set in the quirky setting of Waterstones book shop in the heart of Sheffield City Centre, what better place indeed to set one of Verdi’s most successful stories?
This intimate set up forces you to connect with the singers and Verdi’s awe-inspiring score, performed expertly by Musical Director Juliane Gallant. From the outset of the show the audience are hooked by the loved shared between Violetta (Rachel Abbott) and Alfredo (Gareth Lloyd), as they imagine their future together. The trials and tribulations faced by these two inherently tragic characters is supported by a first-class team of their ‘friends’.
From the long and emotionally-driven duet between Violetta and Germont (Greg Hoyt), to the hilarious guitar hero scene between friends Nathaniel (Tim Bagley), Gastone (Christopher Littlewood), Flora (Rosie Thickett) and Annina (Chloe Saywell), this company is one of the strongest in Opera on Location’s history. Rachel Abbott’s interpretation of Director Ashley Pearson’s updated English libretto was outstanding. Her versatile vocal ability was earth-shattering in such a small setting, but that made it all the more powerful for the completely entranced audience. Gareth Lloyd’s portrayal of Alfredo was a marvel to behold. From his strong vocals, to his tender acting, these two leads had special chemistry. My only negative about this production was the ending, which was perfectly ‘on location’ per se, but the over-dramatic fall at the end took me out of the moment somewhat. A small gripe on a largely brilliant production from Opera on Location. This cannot detract though from how accessible this production has been done for anybody who wants to give it a go.
From the modern English translations, to the casual clothes and the unique setting, the whole production opens its arms to anybody willing to give it a go.