Party scenes fail to hit the heights

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 September, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 September, 2001, 12:00am

La Traviata

Macau International Music Festival, Macau Cultural Centre, until Monday

The Macau International Music Festival opened with that darling of grand opera, Verdi's La Traviata, which tells the story of a consumptive courtesan's tragic love for a nobleman.

This is a roller coaster opera that swings between hedonistic abandonment and doom.

Rikka Hakola as Violetta had the right ethereal looks and a voice with the sweet tones and register to catch the pathos of the final death scene. The opera is supposed to open on a high note against which the creeping shadow of death is set in tragic contrast. But the party mood was not helped by the stodgy acting of the Beijing National Opera of China Chorus. Hakola was not at her best in this act, straining to express light-hearted merriment.

The arrival of Warren Mok as Alfredo brought the party back to life. Mok gave a consistently high-energy performance, his strong tenor projecting well.

The second act was the most successful. Marcel Vanaud as Alfredo's father sang in a baritone that made Violetta's agreement to leave her lover believable.

Act Three was again disappointing as a party scene, with the gypsy band barely managing a few rattles of the tambourine. The elegant sets were each framed with acres of overhanging curtains and tassels which tended to overwhelm the scenes below.

Musical director Paolo Ormi and the Orchestra Internazionale D'Italia captured Verdi's score beautifully, giving the performance welcome pace and energy.

The reviewer watched Thursday's full dress rehearsal of La Traviata.