This experience was a chance and happy occasion. In the morning I shared on Facebook that the Ultimate Picture Palace would be showing La Traviata as recorded in Rome earlier this month:
If you can go to see this, please do! (So that you can tell me all about the performance and staging and Coppola’s personal touch, and then I will sigh and, once again, promise to budget better.)
If you cannot go to this, have a fabulous Tuesday anyway! *solidarity bump*
In a gesture of kindness normally reserved to Disney godmothers, Sam replied that he would take me out. (Cue Franz Ferdinand playing in the background.) He did. He met me from work, took me by the hand, walked me to the King’s Arms for dinner and to Cowley Road for the show. We were possibly the youngest people in the queue by the ticket booth. It was raining, and the cinema theatre held the smell of wet umbrellas and wine. I drank white, he drank red, the old couple behind us kindly saved me from elbowing my glass into Sam’s lap.
I enjoy Sofia Coppola’s work, so when I originally heard that she was directing an opera — and the costumes would be designed by Valentino Garavani — I was very, very intrigued. The resulting spectacle is perhaps a rather conservative adaptation of Giuseppe Verdi’s work, but it was also my first experience with La Traviata and a lovely one at that.
Recorded at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma on July 9th, the production was transported to the big screen worldwide, which is just as well since all 15 performances in Rome had outsold immediately. The version that we saw starred Francesca Dotto as Violetta, and both her voice and her acting were wonderful. If some of the cast, including Antonio Poli as Alfredo, seemed to work as picturesquely positioned megaphones, Dotto lived her part, responding to each turn of the plot with precise emotion. The designs of her dresses were sublime, and the selection of colours — from black to white to red to pink — both reflected Violetta’s position in each particular scene and matched Valentino’s signature designs.
When we heard the opening of ‘Libiamo ne’lieti calici’, the drinking song performed by the duet of Violetta and Alfredo, Sam went, ‘Ah! This is where it comes from!’ Yes. And here are Francesco Albanese and Maria Callas singing about the joys of love and wine. I concur.
Current album: Katy Perry, Witness
Current book: Lydia Davis, Can’t and Won’t
Current TV series: Avatar: The Last Airbender, Series 3 (2007–2008)