Opera Australia gets a lot of flak about its backward-looking programming – sometimes from me – but this remount of Verdi’s La Traviata, the first opera the company floated off Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, might be the show we all really need right now.
It’s outdoors. It’s mask-free (although you can wear one if you prefer). The sunset light (fingers crossed – check the BOM app) is soft and pink. The performers are in sequins. The giant chandelier spins rainbow colours across the stage and audience. The music is insanely joyful and, in turn, devastatingly beautiful. This production of La Traviata is peak Sydney. If you need a little joy in your life, you should go, go, go.
Go for the fireworks
I’m not even joking. It’s easy to be cynical about the fireworks, but post-pandemic, those bangers have new impact. Sitting in an audience shoulder-to-shoulder gasping at the fireworks directly overhead was pure pleasure. They pop up in an unexpected moment. Everyone around me was unguarded for just a few minutes and that was powerful.
Go for the sunset
Arrive extra early, especially now that daylight saving time is over, to let the sunset light wash over you. Take a few photos. This is a world-class outdoors experience. Don’t squander all that beauty, soak it up. Aside from the view, I also enjoyed listening to the water lapping against the stage before the show. It slows you down in ways that are hard to measure.
Go for the costumes
This production is set in the 1950s and the costumes are gelato coloured. Think of your favourite ice cream cones: raspberry, mint, passionfruit, mango. They are all here. Designer Tess Schofield has created delicious eye-candy to meet your starved theatrical cravings. Indulge.
Go for the chandelier (and the set)
Brian Thomson’s massive chandelier is still a knockout. I don’t remember it having such a rainbow-coloured spin last time. It’s fabulous. So is the neon-lit 1950s skyline in Paris stretching across the back of the set: a 15m tall Eiffel tower, Notre Dame Cathedral and Moulin Rouge all shifting in colour during the show.
Go for the singing
Most importantly, the singing is unforgettable. Verdi’s opening drinking song, Brindisi, is a guaranteed party-starter and Stacey Alleaume is striking as Violetta, our doomed heroine, dancing, singing and commanding the enormous floating stage. The first time you see her cough into her handkerchief, you may get a hit of pandemic adrenaline. But once the story develops you just want to hug the woman, and then let her die peacefully. She deserves a soft landing.
The duet between Alleaume and her lover’s father, Giorgio (played by Michael Honeyman, a crowd favourite) was especially beautiful on opening night.
Opera is expensive, there is no getting around it. But this is a shared experience that might lift you out of your pandemic anxiety just for one night. We need this. Tickets are available on Today Tix (Audrey Journal has no affiliation) for $84 or mobile rush tickets for $45.